Making a culture transformation stick with symbolic actions

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Executive Team / Ledningsgruppsarbete, Leadership / Ledarskap, Strategy implementation / Strategiimplementering on August 15th, 2019 by admin

Elephant in the room: making a culture transformation stick with symbolic actions

Leaders are familiar with the challenge of making a cultural transformation. To signal changing expectations, execute carefully considered symbolic actions.

Why did a leading global agriculture player order small rubber elephants adorned with the company’s logo for its meeting rooms? Far from being mere props, these elephants were symbols to facilitate desired behavior shifts in employees.

The organization was undergoing a cultural transformation to become a higher-performing, more innovative company. Leadership realized that to achieve this goal, employees needed to become more open and comfortable having the candid conversations required to move ideas forward—they needed to be able to put the elephant on the table. To encourage this change, leadership sought a way to signal the beginning of the transformation and role model the new behaviors.

Leaders across industries are familiar with the challenge of making—and sustaining—a cultural transformation. To signal that cultural expectations are changing, leadership should execute one or two carefully considered symbolic actions.

Make expectations clear through role modeling
“Beyond Performance 2.0” discusses the importance of senior leaders employing symbolic actions—highly visible acts or decisions that indicate change in the organization—to demonstrate their commitment to the transformation. Symbolic actions can augment critical, but often less visible, day-to-day behavior shifts among leaders, addressing a common frustration: “I’m doing things differently but no one is noticing.”

Our research shows that transformations are 5.3 times more likely to succeed when leaders model the behavior they want employees to adopt. We also found that nearly 50 percent of employees cite the CEO’s visible engagement and commitment to transformation as the most effective action for engaging frontline employees.

Symbolic actions are most successful when employees connect the dots between the act and the broader change message, facilitating both a mindset and behavioral shift. For example, employees at the agriculture company were initially confused when they discovered the rubber elephants. But their confusion subsided when they saw leaders pick them up and put them on the table as they raised difficult topics others might have felt uncomfortable surfacing. The practice was eventually adopted by other employees when they too needed to call out the elephant in the room.

Develop a portfolio of symbolic actions
Leaders can identify the right symbolic actions for their organization and evolve their approaches by undertaking three key activities:

1. Define the purpose of and audience for potential symbolic actions.
Leaders should identify what specific changes they want to facilitate and which group should be part of the symbolic action. Being clear on what is being symbolized and for what purpose will focus energy on the ideas that will have the greatest impact.

2. Brainstorm symbolic actions.
Go for quantity over quality when generating ideas. Use external examples for inspiration and adopt design-thinking tactics, such as empathy mapping, to better understand the audience. Categorizing the ideas according to design dimensions such as who will execute the action and the frequency of the action (one-time, periodic or ongoing) helps the group iterate.

3. Review and prioritize ideas.
Evaluate the list as a team and identify options that you feel will be the most effective, shifting the focus to quality over quantity. Prioritized actions should be consistent with broader transformation messaging and should be designed to appeal to the different sources of meaning that motivate and inspire employees, such as doing good for society, supporting their working team, or enabling personal gain.

The behavior change and the broader culture change transformation catalyzed by the elephant on the table ultimately paid off for the agriculture company. Its employees now have more open, candid conversations, enabling improved performance and health of the organization. The company climbed to the top decile of organizational health in McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index database—an achievement that our analysis indicates correlates with clear improvements in financial performance. For shareholders, there is nothing symbolic about those returns.

For more on leading successful large-scale change programs, see our book, “Beyond Performance 2.0.”

Source:, July 2019
Authors: By Jessica Cohen, Matt Schrimper and Emily Taylor

How leaders kill meaning at work

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on July 8th, 2019 by admin

Senior executives routinely undermine creativity, productivity, and commitment by damaging the inner work lives of their employees in four avoidable ways.

As a senior executive, you may think you know what Job Number 1 is: developing a killer strategy. In fact, this is only Job 1a. You have a second, equally important task. Call it Job 1b: enabling the ongoing engagement and everyday progress of the people in the trenches of your organization who strive to execute that strategy. A multiyear research project whose results we described in our recent book, The Progress Principle, found that of all the events that can deeply engage people in their jobs, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.

Even incremental steps forward—small wins—boost what we call “inner work life”: the constant flow of emotions, motivations, and perceptions that constitute a person’s reactions to the events of the work day. Beyond affecting the well-being of employees, inner work life affects the bottom line. People are more creative, productive, committed, and collegial in their jobs when they have positive inner work lives. But it’s not just any sort of progress in work that matters. The first, and fundamental, requirement is that the work be meaningful to the people doing it.

In our book and a recent Harvard Business Review article, we argue that managers at all levels routinely—and unwittingly—undermine the meaningfulness of work for their direct subordinates through everyday words and actions. These include dismissing the importance of subordinates’ work or ideas, destroying a sense of ownership by switching people off project teams before work is finalized, shifting goals so frequently that people despair that their work will ever see the light of day, and neglecting to keep subordinates up to date on changing priorities for customers.

But what about a company’s most senior leaders? What is their role in making—or killing—meaning at work? To be sure, as a high-level leader, you have fewer opportunities to directly affect the inner work lives of employees than do frontline supervisors. Yet your smallest actions pack a wallop because what you say and do is intensely observed by people down the line. A sense of purpose in the work, and consistent action to reinforce it, has to come from the top.

Four traps

To better understand the role of upper-level managers, we recently dug back into our data: nearly 12,000 daily electronic diaries from dozens of professionals working on important innovation projects at seven North American companies. We selected those entries in which diarists mentioned upper- or top-level managers—868 narratives in all.

Qualitative analysis of the narratives highlighted four traps that lie in wait for senior executives. Most of these pitfalls showed up in several companies. Six of the seven suffered from one or more of the traps, and in only a single company did leaders avoid them. The existence of this outlier suggests that it is possible for senior executives to sustain meaning consistently, but that’s difficult and requires vigilance.

This article should help you determine whether you risk falling into some of these traps yourself—and unknowingly dragging your organization into the abyss with you. We also offer a few thoughts on avoiding the problems, advice inspired by the actions and words of a senior leader at the one company that did so.

We don’t claim to have all the answers. But we are convinced that executives who sidestep these traps reduce their risk of inadvertently draining meaning from the work of the people in their organizations. Those leaders also will boost the odds of tapping into the motivational power of progress—something surprisingly few do.

We surveyed 669 managers at all levels of management, from dozens of companies and various industries around the world. We asked them to rank the importance of five employee motivators: incentives, recognition, clear goals, interpersonal support, and progress in the work. Only 8 percent of senior executives ranked progress as the most important motivator. Had they chosen randomly, 20 percent would have done so. In short, our survey showed that most executives don’t understand the power of progress in meaningful work.4 And the traps revealed by the diaries suggest that most executives don’t act as though progress matters. You can do better.

Trap 1: Mediocrity signals

Most likely, your company aspires to greatness, articulating a high purpose for the organization in its corporate mission statement. But are you inadvertently signaling the opposite through your words and actions?

We saw this dynamic repeatedly at a well-known consumer products company we’ll call Karpenter Corporation, which was experiencing a rapid deterioration in the inner work lives of its employees as a result of the actions of a new top-management team. Within three years of our studying Karpenter, it had become unprofitable and was acquired by a smaller rival.

Karpenter’s top-management team espoused a vision of entrepreneurial cross-functional business teams. In theory, each team would operate autonomously, managing its share of the company’s resources to back its own new-product innovations. During the year we collected data from Karpenter teams, the annual report was full of references to the company’s innovation focus; in the first five sentences, “innovation” appeared three times.

In practice, however, those top managers were so focused on cost savings that they repeatedly negated the teams’ autonomy, dictated cost reduction goals that had to be met before any other priorities were, and—as a result—drove new-product innovation into the ground. This unintended, de facto hypocrisy took its toll, as a diary excerpt from a longtime Karpenter product engineer emphasizes:

Today I found out that our team will be concentrating on [cost savings] for the next several months instead of any new products. . . . It is getting very difficult to concentrate on removing pennies from the standard cost of an item. That is the only place that we have control over. Most of the time, quality suffers. It seems that our competition is putting out new products at a faster rate. . . . We are no longer the leader in innovation. We are the followers.

This employee’s work had begun to lose its meaning, and he wasn’t alone. Many of the other 65 Karpenter professionals in our study felt that they were doing mediocre work for a mediocre company—one for which they had previously felt fierce pride. By the end of our time collecting data at Karpenter, many of these employees were completely disengaged. Some of the very best had left.

The mediocrity trap was not unique to Karpenter. We saw it revealed in different guises in several of the companies we studied. At a chemicals firm, it stemmed from the top managers’ risk aversion. Consider these words from one researcher there:

A proposal for liquid/medical filtration using our new technology was tabled for the second time by the Gate 1 committee (five directors that screen new ideas). Although we had plenty of info for this stage of the game, the committee is uncomfortable with the risk and liability. The team, and myself, are frustrated about hurdles that we don’t know how to answer.

This company’s leaders also inadvertently signaled that, despite their rhetoric about being innovative and cutting edge, they were really more comfortable being ordinary.

Trap 2: Strategic ‘attention deficit disorder’

As an experienced leader, you probably scan your company’s external environment constantly for guidance in making your next strategic moves. What are competitors planning? Where are new ones popping up? What’s happening in the global economy, and what might the implications be for financing or future market priorities? You are probably brimming with ideas on where you’d like to take the company next. All of that is good, in theory.

In practice, we see too many top managers start and abandon initiatives so frequently that they appear to display a kind of attention deficit disorder (ADD) when it comes to strategy and tactics. They don’t allow sufficient time to discover whether initiatives are working, and they communicate insufficient rationales to their employees when they make strategic shifts.

Karpenter’s strategic ADD seemed to stem from its leaders’ short attention span, perhaps fueled by the CEO’s desire to embrace the latest management trends. The problem was evident in decisions at the level of product lines and extended all the way up to corporate strategy. If you blinked, you could miss the next strategic shift. In one employee’s words:

A quarterly product review was held with members of the [top team] and the general manager and president. Primary outcome from the meeting was a change in direction away from spray jet mops to revitalization of existing window squeegees. Four priorities were defined for product development, none of which were identified as priorities at our last quarterly update. The needle still points north, but we’ve turned the compass again.

At another company we studied, strategic ADD appeared to stem from a top team warring with itself. Corporate executives spent many months trying to nail down a new market strategy. Meanwhile, different vice presidents were pushing in different directions, rendering each of the leaders incapable of giving consistent direction to their people. This wreaked havoc in the trenches. One diarist, a project manager, felt that rather than committing herself to doing something great for particular customers, she needed to hedge her bets:

The VP gave us his opinion of which target candidates [for new products] may fit with overall company strategy—but, in reality, neither he nor anyone in our management structure knows what the strategy is. It makes this project a real balancing act—we need to go forward, but need to weigh commitments very carefully.

If high-level leaders don’t appear to have their act together on exactly where the organization should be heading, it’s awfully difficult for the troops to maintain a strong sense of purpose.

Trap 3: Corporate Keystone Kops

In the early decades of cinema, a popular series of silent-film comedies featured the Keystone Kops—fictional policemen so incompetent that they ran around in circles, mistakenly bashed each other on the head, and fumbled one case after another. The title of that series became synonymous with miscoordination. Our research found that many executives who think everything is going smoothly in the everyday workings of their organizations are blithely unaware that they preside over their own corporate version of the Keystone Kops. Some contribute to the farce through their actions, others by failing to act. At Karpenter, for example, top managers set up overly complex matrix reporting structures, repeatedly failed to hold support functions (such as purchasing and sales) accountable for coordinated action, and displayed a chronic indecisiveness that bred rushed analyses. In the words of one diarist:

Last-minute changes continue on [an important customer’s] assortments. Rather than think through the whole process and logically decide which assortments we want to show [the customer], we are instead using a shotgun approach of trying multiple assortments until we find one that works. In the meantime, we are expending a lot of time and effort on potential assortments only to find out later that an assortment has been dropped.

Although Karpenter’s example was egregious, the company was far from alone in creating chaotic situations for its workers. In one high-tech company we studied, for example, Keystone Kop–like scenarios played out around the actions of a rogue marketing function. As described in one engineer’s diary, the attempts of many teams to move forward with their projects were continually thwarted by signals from marketing that conflicted with those coming from R&D and other key functions. Marketers even failed to show up for many key meetings:

At a meeting with Pierce, Clay, and Joseph, I was told that someone from marketing would be attending our team meetings (finally). The meeting also gave me a chance to demonstrate to Joseph that we were getting mixed signals from marketing.

When coordination and support are absent within an organization, people stop believing that they can produce something of high quality. This makes it extremely difficult to maintain a sense of purpose.

Trap 4: Misbegotten ‘big, hairy, audacious goals’

Management gurus Jim Collins and Jerry Porras encourage organizations to develop a “big, hairy, audacious goal” (BHAG, pronounced bee-hag)—a bold strategic vision statement that has powerful emotional appeal.5 BHAGs help infuse work with meaning by articulating the goals of the organization in a way that connects emotionally with peoples’ values. (Think of Google’s stated mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”)

At some companies, however, such statements are grandiose, containing little relevance or meaning for people in the trenches. They can be so extreme as to seem unattainable and so vague as to seem empty. The result is a meaning vacuum. Cynicism rises and drive plummets. Although we saw this trap clearly in only one of the seven companies we studied, we think it is sufficiently seductive and dangerous to warrant consideration.

That company, a chemicals firm, set a BHAG that all projects had to be innovative blockbusters that would yield a minimum of $100 million in revenue annually, within five years of a project’s initiation. This goal did not infuse the work with meaning, because it had little to do with the day-to-day activities of people in the organization. It did not articulate milestones toward the goal; it did not provide for a range of experiments and outcomes to meet it; worst of all, it did not connect with anything the employees valued. Most of them wanted to provide something of value to their customers; an aggressive revenue target told them only about the value to the organization, not to the customer. Far from what Collins and Porras intended, this misbegotten BHAG was helping to destroy the employees’ sense of purpose.

Avoiding the traps

Spotting the traps from the executive suite is difficult enough; sidestepping them is harder still—and wasn’t the focus of our research. Nonetheless, it’s instructive to look at the one company in our study that avoided the traps, a creator of coated fabrics for weatherproof clothing and other applications. We recently interviewed its head, whom we’ll call Mark Hamilton. That conversation generated a few ideas that we hope will spark a lively discussion in your own C-suite. For example:

When you communicate with employees, do you provide strategic clarity that’s consistent with your organization’s capabilities and an understanding of where it can add the most value? Hamilton and his top team believed that innovating in processes, rather than products, was the key to creating the right combination of quality and value for customers. So he talked about process innovation at every all-company meeting, and he steadfastly supported it throughout the organization. This consistency helped everyone understand the strategy and even become jazzed about it.

Can you keep sight of the individual employee’s perspective? The best executives we studied internalize their early experiences and use them as reference points for gauging the signals that their own behavior will send to the troops. “Try hard to remember when you were working in the trenches,” Hamilton says. “If somebody asked you to do a bunch of work on something they hadn’t thought through, how meaningful could it be for you? How committed could you be?”

Do you have any early-warning systems that indicate when your view from the top doesn’t match the reality on the ground? Regular audits to gauge the effectiveness of coordination and support processes in areas such as marketing, sales, and purchasing can highlight pain points that demand senior management’s attention because they are starting to sap meaning from your people’s work. In Hamilton’s view, senior executives bear the responsibility for identifying and clearing away systemic impediments that prevent quality work from getting done.

Hamilton’s company was doing very well. But we believe that senior executives can provide a sense of purpose and progress even in bad economic times. Consider the situation that then–newly appointed Xerox head Anne Mulcahy faced in 2000, when the company verged on bankruptcy. Mulcahy refused her advisers’ recommendation to file for bankruptcy (unless all other options were exhausted) because of the demoralizing signal it would send to frontline employees. “What we have going for us,” she said, “is that our people believe we are in a war that we can win.”6 She was right, and her conviction helped carry Xerox through four years of arduous struggle to later success.

As an executive, you are in a better position than anyone to identify and articulate the higher purpose of what people do within your organization. Make that purpose real, support its achievement through consistent everyday actions, and you will create the meaning that motivates people toward greatness. Along the way, you may find greater meaning in your own work as a leader.

About the authors: Teresa Amabile is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Steven Kramer is an independent researcher and writer.

Så minskar du stressen på jobbet

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on May 27th, 2019 by admin

För mycket mejl, för många möten, för lite tid. Känns det bekant? I dag är besvär orsakat av stress och andra psykiska påfrestningar på jobbet vanligt. 

Struktören David Stiernholm har de senaste 15 åren hjälpt olika verksamheter att strukturera upp. Här är hans tips för att minska stressen på jobbet.

Pappershögarna är lägre, kontorslandskapen öppnare och mötena slukar allt mer arbetstid. Under åren som David Stiernholm varit verksam som struktör har han besökt hundratals arbetsplaster och lagt märke till ett antal saker som förändrats. Att vi i dag jobbar mer och mer digitalt är självklart men konsekvenserna är att inflödena blivit många fler än tidigare. 

– Det är inte bara inflöden av information utan även att kommunikation sker i många olika kanaler. Många jag träffar uttrycker att de behöver hjälp med att reda ut det här, hur ofta ska jag titta vad som skrivs och vad ska jag fokusera på? Många upplever att de blir avbrutna hela tiden, säger David Stiernholm.

David Stiernholm har lyckats strukturera upp sin egen arbetssituation så att han kan leva efter 37-15-4-metoden. Han jobbar 37 veckor om året, är ledig 15 veckor och jobbar bara fyra effektiva dagar i veckan för att kunna vara ledig på fredagar.
David Stiernholm har lyckats strukturera upp sin egen arbetssituation så att han kan leva efter 37-15-4-metoden. Han jobbar 37 veckor om året, är ledig 15 veckor och jobbar bara fyra effektiva dagar i veckan för att kunna vara ledig på fredagar. Foto: Nicklas Thegerström

Boken ”Förenkla på jobbet” riktar sig framför allt till verksamheter där anställda eller egenföretagare själva lägger upp sitt arbete. Det kan till exempel vara experter, forskare, skribenter och chefer. 

– I dag är folk mer hänvisade till sig själva. Många förväntas själva lägga upp sitt arbete och lära sig nya system utan att kanske riktigt fått förklarat för sig vad man ska ha det till. Det skapar stress.

I dag tar också möten allt mer tid av arbetsdagen. Så pass mycket att många inte riktigt hinner det de ska göra på sin övriga arbetstid. Det kan medföra att man får jobba över eller småjobbar hemma på kvällarna. Att planen för dagen spricker är också vanligt, liksom otydliga mål. Ambitiösa personer utför fler arbetsuppgifter än de förväntas. Det är mycket till dem boken riktar sig åt. 

– Men också personer i chefspositioner som är utsatta då många assistentjobb och andra stödfunktioner försvunnit. Det är klassiskt att mellanchefer blir klämda. De ska vara operativa och tillgängliga för sina medarbetare och samtidigt hålla huvudet ovanför vattenytan, arbeta strategiskt och genomföra det som kommer ovanifrån. Det är lika vanligt i näringsliv som i offentlig sektor. 

Lösningarna då? Det viktigaste menar David Stiernholm är att hitta roten till problemen för att kunna svara på frågan om varför någonting är så krångligt. 

– Idén är att om man hittar själva grundproblemet så löser man många fler aspekter och symptom än de man först tänkte att man skulle lösa. Det är ofta ganska få problem som ställer till det ganska mycket. 

En viktig faktor är tid och allt som ska hinnas med på arbetsdagen. David Stiernholm säger att många har ganska dålig uppfattning om hur lång tid en viss arbetsuppgift kommer ta och att många överskattar hur brådskandet vissa saker är. 

– Om man är ambitiös är det lätt att tänka okej, det är brådskande så jag måste släppa allt annat och göra det direkt. Du borde istället fråga chefen, när behöver du egentligen ha det klart? Och inte nöja sig med så ”snart som möjligt” för det kan betyda väldigt olika för olika personer. Bråttom är ett godtyckligt begrepp. 

Vad är svårigheterna? 

– Att vi gapar efter för mycket direkt. Börja med någonting väldigt avgränsat och försök förenkla det. Om du börjar med ett stort problem och du samtidigt är stressad och har för mycket att göra är det väldigt lätt att misslyckas. 


Läs mer: Pauser på jobbet gör dig mer effektiv 

David Stiernholms tre tips för struktur på jobbet

1. Hitta grundproblemet

Jag tar avstamp i klassiska kvalitetsförbättringsverktyg som utvecklades i Japan på 50-talet och som går ut på att man frågar sig själv fem gånger vad problemet är för att komma fram till själva grunden till varför det blir på ett visst sätt. 

2. Avsätt egentid 

När möten slukar mycket av arbetstiden är det viktigt att avsätta tid varje vecka för att bara jobba med sådant du måste göra men kanske sällan hinner. Det är okej att flytta på den tiden om något viktigt möte skulle bokas, men bara om du flyttar tiden till en annan dag den veckan. 

3. Kräv tydliga deadlines och mål 

Vet man inte riktigt när någonting som är brådskande egentligen måste vara klart är det lätt att stressa i onödan. Kräv en exakt tid av din chef för att få bättre koll på hur du ska prioritera och lägga upp din tid. Tydliga mål gör att du inte bränner ut dig genom att göra uppgifter som egentligen inte förväntas av dig. 

Källa:, 27 maj 2019
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Vad är det som gör en chef populär?

Posted in Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on May 21st, 2019 by admin

Kraven på dagens drömchef är betydligt högre i dag än tidigare. Men vilka egenskaper är viktigast för att en chef ska bli omtyckt av sin personal? Forskarna Lisa Björk och Charlotte Simonsson ger sina bästa råd för att hantera ledarskapsrollen.

Lyhörd, tydlig, coachande och en människokännare. En rapport från Manpower där 2.307 både anställda och företagare svarade visar att många föredrar chefer som är människokännare – i stället för sakkunniga inom sitt arbete. Tre av fyra tyckte dessutom att deras närmaste #chef är ganska eller mycket bra. Men kraven på dagens drömchef är betydligt högre än förr i tiden.

– Dagens chef ska vara både terapeut, visionär och operatör, säger Charlotte Simonsson, som har forskat på ledarskap och är forskare på institutionen för strategisk kommunikation, Lunds universitet.

På dagens arbetsmarknad ska chefer kunna hålla flera bollar i luften. Samtidigt som de ska se den enskilda medarbetaren, och inspirera eller stötta, ska chefer också leda verksamheten och komma med nya strategier, menar Charlotte Simonsson. 

– Vi har gått från ett mer uppgiftsorienterat ledarskap till mer människovetande, jag tror det är en del av samhällsutvecklingen där chefer får en mindre hierarkisk roll, säger hon.

Den nya synen på ledarskap utvecklades under 1980-talet. Ledningsfilosofin betonade kommunikativt ledarskap istället för traditionella strategiska mönster. Enligt Charlotte Simonsson befinner vi oss fortfarande i den utvecklingen. 

Samtidigt som dagens ledarskap gör det enklare att fånga upp medarbetare, som mår dåligt, innebär det också mer ansvar för chefen. Det i sin tur riskerar att ge stresspåslag tillägger Charlotte Simonsson. Hela sju av tio chefer mår så psykiskt dåligt att arbetet drabbas, visar en undersökning av fackförbundet Saco, under förra året. Dessutom har många chefer arbetat trots sjukdom eftersom de upplever att ingen annan gör jobbet. 

Längst ned på listan över egenskaper, som chefer önskas behärska, skvalpar resultatorienterad och effektiv. 

Senaste gången Manpowers undersökning genomfördes var för fyra år sedan. Även då hamnade resultatorienterad och effektiv i botten. Däremot har tydlighet blivit en allt viktigare egenskap bland chefer.

Varför vi efterfrågar mer människokännande drag av dagens chefer är en svår fråga att besvara. Men en förklaring kan vara att arbetslivet blir allt mer gränslöst. Det menar Lisa Björk, som är utvecklingsledare i organisation och ledarskap på Institutet för stressmedicin, ISM. Hon har framför allt studerat den offentliga sektorn. 

– Flera personer har ett gränslöst arbetsliv där gränserna för fritid och arbetstid suddas ut, många arbetar på kaféer eller aktivitetsbaserade kontor när vi går över till en tjänstebaserad ekonomi, säger hon.

När människor arbetar utanför kontorstider eller på olika platser ställer det högre krav på att chefen är närvarande. Framför allt eftersom egenskaper såsom coachande uppskattas mer. Samtidigt är det en utmaning när arbetet blir mer flexibelt. 

– Flera studier visar att medarbetare känner större arbetsengagemang när chefer uppvisar en sorts mänsklighet, men för att vara en stöttande chef krävs det att du har rätt förutsättningar, säger Lisa Björk. 

Det krävs att chefen har lagom med underanställda, annars är det svårt att validera varje enskild medarbetare. Likaså krävs det att du som chef har stöd från personen ovanför dig – med andra ord din egen chef. 

– I offentlig sektor har mycket nära stöd till chefer plockats bort, exempelvis sekreterarfunktioner, dessutom sitter somliga chefer långt ifrån sin egen chef, vilket gör det svårt att hinna vara den chefen man önskar vara, säger Lisa Björk. 

Drömchefen kommer troligtvis fortsätta vara en människokännare ett bra tag framöver, tror både Lisa Björk och Charlotte Simonsson. 

– Ingen föds som en perfekt chef utan det handlar om att utveckla sina mänskliga förmågor, säger Lisa Björk. 

Experterna tips:

1. Börja med att vända dig mot dig själv.

– Hur ser dina förutsättningar ut för att vara drömchefen? Fundera på hur stor arbetsbelastningen är, exempelvis hur många underanställda du klarar av för att vara en bra chef, men även hur relationen ser ut till din egen chef, säger Lisa Björk. 

2.  Prata med dina medarbetare om ditt #ledarskap.

– När jag har intervjuat chefer säger många att de inte har berättat för sina medarbetare hur de vill att deras eget ledarskap ser ut. Genom att prata med kollegorna är du tydlig med vad de kan förvänta sig av dig, säger Charlotte Simonsson. 

3. Fundera på hur du motiverar dina medarbetare.

– När du har kollat igenom dina förutsättningar är det dags att kolla på hur du motiverar andra. Vad är viktigt för mig och vilken typ av ledare vill jag vara, säger Lisa Björk. 

4. Ta ett helhetsgrepp.

– Dagens chefer kan inte vara bäst på allt när de har så mycket att göra. Det viktiga är att du som chef tar ett helhetsgrepp och blickar framåt, säger Charlotte Simonsson.

På uppdrag av Manpower Work Life genomförde analysföretaget Inizio undersökningen i januari 2019. Materialet omfattar anställda, egenföretagare, arbetssökande och studerande. Totalt svarade 2.307 personer på undersökningen. Respondenterna hade möjlighet att välja mer än en egenskap som drömchefen behärskar. 

Fackförbundet Saco:s undersökning är en sammanställning av olika källors datamaterial. Bland annat från Arbetsmiljöverket, Försäkringskassan och SCB. Materialet omfattar både enkätfrågor och statistik. 

Källa:, maj 2019
Charlotte Simonsson, Lisa Björk, Manpower och Saco. 

Three keys to faster, better decisions

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on May 3rd, 2019 by admin

Decision makers fed up with slow or subpar results take heart. Three practices can help improve decision making and convince skeptical business leaders that there is life after death by committee.

Two years ago, we wrote about how it was simultaneously the best and worst of times for decision makers in senior management. Best because of more data, better analytics, and clearer understanding of how to mitigate the cognitive biases that often undermine corporate decision processes. Worst because organizational dynamics and digital decision-making dysfunctions were causing growing levels of frustration among senior leaders we knew.

Since then, we’ve conducted research to more clearly understand this balance, and the results have been disquieting. A survey we conducted recently with more than 1,200 managers across a range of global companies gave strong signs of growing levels of frustration with broken decision-making processes, with the slow pace of decision-making deliberations, and with the uneven quality of decision-making outcomes. Fewer than half of the survey respondents say that decisions are timely, and 61 percent say that at least half the time spent making them is ineffective. The opportunity costs of this are staggering: about 530,000 days of managers’ time potentially squandered each year for a typical Fortune 500 company, equivalent to some $250 million in wages annually.1

Managers at a typical Fortune 500 company may waste more than 500,000 days a year on ineffective decision making.

The reasons for the dissatisfaction are manifold: decision makers complain about everything from lack of real debate, convoluted processes, and an overreliance on consensus and death by committee, to unclear organizational roles, information overload (and the resulting inability to separate signal from noise), and company cultures that lack empowerment. One healthcare executive told us he sat through the same 90-minute proposal three times on separate committees because no one knew who was authorized to approve the decision. A pharma company hesitated so long over whether to pounce on an acquisition target that it lost the deal to a competitor. And a chemicals company CEO we know found himself devoting precious time to making hiring decisions four levels down the organization.

In our previous article, we proposed solutions that centered around categorizing decision types and organizing quite different processes against them. Our latest research confirms the importance of this approach, and it also highlights for each major decision category a noteworthy practice—sometimes stimulating debate, for example, while in other cases empowering employees—that can yield outsize improvements in effectiveness. When improvements in these areas are coupled with an organizational commitment to implement decisions—embracing not undercutting them—companies can achieve lasting improvements in both decision quality and speed. Indeed, faster decisions are often a happy outcome of these efforts. Our survey showed a strong correlation between quick decisions and good ones, suggesting that a commonly held assumption among executives—namely, “We can have good decisions or fast ones, but not both”—is flawed.

Three fixes that make a difference

Avoiding life on the bubble

Of the four decision categories we identified two years ago, three matter most to senior leaders. Big-bet decisions (such as a possible acquisition) are infrequent but high risk and have the potential to shape the future of the company; these are generally the domain of the top team and the board. Cross-cutting decisions (such as a pricing decision), which can be high risk, happen frequently and are made in cross-functional forums as part of a collaborative, end-to-end process. Delegated decisions are frequent but low risk and are effectively handled by an individual or working team, with limited input from others. (The fourth category, ad hoc decisions, which are infrequent and low stakes, is not addressed in this article.) Clearly, it is important that these types of decisions happen at the appropriate level of the company (CEOs, for example, shouldn’t make decisions that are best delegated). And yet, just as clearly, many decisions rise up much higher in the company than they should (see sidebar, “Avoiding life on the bubble”).

Even those businesses that do make decisions at the right level, however, complain about slow and bad outcomes. The evidence of our survey—and our experience watching executives grapple with this—suggests that while the best practices for making better decisions are interrelated, there’s nonetheless one standout practice that makes the biggest difference for each type of decision.

Big bets—facilitate productive debate

Big-bet decisions can be future-shapers for a company, the most important decisions leaders make. And they often receive much less scrutiny than they should.

The dynamic inside many decision meetings doesn’t help. It’s as if there is an unspoken understanding that the meeting should proceed like a short, three-act play. In the first act, the proposal is delivered in a snappy PowerPoint presentation that summarizes the relevant information; in the second, a few tough yet perfunctory questions are asked of the presenter and answered well; in the final act, resolution arrives in the form of an undramatic “yes” that may seem preordained. Little substantive discussion takes place.

In a global agricultural company, for example, the members of the executive committee tended to speak up only if their particular area of the business was being discussed. The tacit assumption was that people wouldn’t intrude on colleagues’ area of responsibility. Consequently, when the top team moved to decide on a proposed new initiative in Europe, the leaders from the US business stayed silent, even though they had years of hard-won experience in marketing and cross-selling similar agricultural products to those new ones under discussion. Nonetheless, the decision was made, the products launched—and sales lagged expectations. Later, the European sales force was frustrated to learn their US counterparts had relevant experience that would have helped.

Whether the cause of such dynamics is siloed thinking or a consensus-driven culture (of which, more later), the effect on decision making is decidedly negative. Bet-the-company decisions require productive interactions and healthy debate that balance inquiry and advocacy. In fact, the presence of high-quality interactions and debate was the factor most predictive of whether a respondent in our survey also said their company made good, fast big-bet decisions?

Leaders can encourage debate by helping overcome the “conspiracy of approval” approach to group discussion. Simple behavior changes can help. For example, consider starting the decision meeting by reminding participants of the overall organizational goals the meeting supports, in order to reframe the subsequent discussions. Then assign someone to argue the case for, and against, a potential decision or the various options under consideration. Similarly, ask the leaders of business units, regions, or functions to examine the decision from outside their own point of view. A rotating devil’s advocate role can bolster critical thinking, while premortem exercises (in which you start by assuming the initiative in question turned out to be a failure, and then work back for likely explanations) can pressure test for weak spots in an argument or plan.

The objective should be to explore assumptions and alternatives beyond what’s been presented and actively seek information that might disconfirm the group’s initial hypotheses. Creating a safe space for this is vital; at first it can be helpful for the most senior participants to ask questions instead of expressing opinions and to actively encourage dissenting views. Productive debate is essentially a form of conflict—a healthy form—so senior executives will need to devote time to building trust and giving permission to dissent, irrespective of the organizational hierarchy in the room.

A final note of caution: minimizing the number of debate participants to speed up decision making could harm decision quality. As many studies show, greater diversity brings greater collective wisdom and expertise, along with better performance. This is also true in decision making. To ensure a faster process, companies should manage the expectations of debate participants by limiting their voting rights and sticking to other agreed-upon processes, as we explore next.

Cross-cutting decisions—understand the power of process

An executive we know joked during a meeting that “a committee is born every day in this organization.” Just then, another executive nearby looked up from his computer to announce he had just been invited to join a new committee. The comedic timing of the line was perfect, but it wasn’t a joke.

Or perhaps the joke is on the rest of us? We often find companies maintaining a dozen or more senior-executive-level committees and related support committees, all of which recycle the same members in different configurations. The impetus for this is understandable—cross-cutting decisions, in particular, are the culmination of smaller decisions taking place elsewhere in the company. And cross-cutting decisions were the ones that executives in our survey had the most exposure to, regardless of their seniority.

Yet when it comes to cross-cutting decisions (involving, for example, pricing, sales, and operations planning processes or new-product launches), only 34 percent of respondents said that their organization made decisions that were both good and timely.

There are many reasons cross-cutting decisions go crosswise. Leaders may not have visibility on who is—or should be—involved; silos make it fiendishly hard to see how smaller decisions aggregate into bigger ones; there may be no process at all, or one that’s poorly understood.

Solving for cross-cutting decisions, therefore, starts with commitment to a well-coordinated process that helps clarify objectives, measures, targets, and roles. In practical terms, this might mean drawing a bright line between the portion of a meeting dedicated to decisions from the parts of a meeting meant to inform or discuss. Any recurring meetings (particularly topic-focused ones) where the nature of the decision isn’t clear are ripe for a rethink—and quite possibly for elimination.

Good meeting discipline is also a must. For example, a mining company realized that its poor decision making was related to the lack of rigor with which executives ran important meetings. As a result, the top team developed a “meeting manifesto” that spelled out required behaviors, starting with punctuality. The new rules also required leaders to clarify their decision rights in advance, and to be more deliberate about managing the number of participants so that meetings wouldn’t become bloated, on the one hand, or lack diverse views, on the other.

The manifesto was printed on laminated posters that were put in all meeting rooms, and when the CEO was seen personally reinforcing the new rules, the news spread quickly that there was a new game afoot. As the new practices took hold, the benefits became apparent. In pulse-check surveys conducted over the course of the following year, the company’s measures of meeting effectiveness and efficiency went up by almost 50 percent.

A social-network analysis, meanwhile, allowed a global consumer company to identify time wasting around decision making on a heroic scale—as many as 45 percent of interactions were found to be potentially inefficient, and 23 percent of the individuals involved in an average interaction added no value. In response, the company broke down complex processes into key decisions, clarified roles and responsibilities for each one, defined inputs and outputs for each process, and made one person accountable for each outcome. After conducting pilots in several countries, executives used two-day workshops to roll out the process redesign. The resulting benefits included a significant financial boost (as employees used the freed-up time in higher-value ways), as well as an arguably more important boost in employees’ morale and sense of work–life balance, which in turn has helped the company attract and retain talent.

Delegated decisions—make empowerment real

Delegated decisions are generally far narrower in scope than big-bet decisions or cross-cutting ones. They are frequent and relatively routine elements of day-to-day management. But given the multiplier effect, there is a lot of value at stake here, and when the organization’s approach is flawed it’s costly.

In our experience, ensuring that responsibility for delegated decisions is firmly in the hands of those closest to the work typically delivers faster, better, and more efficiently executed outcomes, while also enhancing engagement and accountability.

Our research supports this view. Survey respondents who report that employees at their company are empowered to make decisions and receive sufficient coaching from leaders were 3.2 times more likely than other respondents to also say their company’s delegated decisions were both high quality and speedy.

A vital aspect of empowerment, we find, involves creating an environment where employees can “fail safely.” For example, a European financial-services company we know started a series of monthly, after-work gatherings where leaders could meet over drinks to discuss failure stories and the lessons they’d learned from them. The meetings were purposely kept informal, but top management nonetheless established ground rules to ensure that the stories would be meaningful (not trivial) and that employees telling the stories would be protected. The meetings started small but became popular quickly. Today, a typical session includes 40 to 50 of the company’s top 150 leaders. The climate of trust and openness the sessions encourage has translated into better ideas, including practical lessons that have helped the company speed up its release of new products.

As this example suggests, empowerment means not only giving employees a strong sense of ownership and accountability but also fostering a bias for action, especially in situations where time is of the essence. That’s easier said than done if there’s no penalty for avoiding a decision or sanction for escalating issues unnecessarily.

Executives who get delegated decisions right are clear about the boundaries of delegation (including what’s off-limits and how and where to escalate what’s beyond an individual’s competence), ensure that those they entrust with decision-making authority have the relevant skills and knowledge to act (and if not, provide them with the opportunity to acquire those capabilities), and explicitly make people accountable for their areas of decision-making responsibility (including spelling out the consequences for those who fail to respond to the challenge). This often means senior leaders engaging in conversations and dialogue, encouraging those newly empowered to seek help, and in the early days subtly and invisibly monitoring the performance of those participating in “delegated” forums so as not to appear to be taking over. Leaders might want to start mentoring their reports with a small “box” of accountability, slowly expanding it as more junior executives grow in confidence.

For leaders looking to become better delegators, it’s not a question of choosing between a style that is “hands-on” or “hands-off,” or between one that is “controlling” or “empowering.” There’s a balance to be struck. Root out micromanagers who are both hands-on and controlling, as well as “helicopter autocrats” who are hands-off and controlling, occasionally swooping in, barking orders, and disappearing again. But the laissez-faire executive—generally too hands-off, delegating but leaving those with the responsibility too much to their own devices (sometimes with disastrous results)—is also a danger. The ideal in our experience are hands-on and delegating leaders who coach, challenge, and inspire their reports, are there to help those who need help, and stay well clear of actually making the decision.

After the decision: Seek commitment, not unanimous agreement

In his April 2017 letter to Amazon shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the concept of “disagree and commit” with respect to decision making. It’s good advice that often goes overlooked. Too frequently, executives charged with making decisions at the three levels discussed earlier leave the meeting assuming that once there’s been a show of hands—or nods of agreement—the job is done. Far from it.

Indeed, any agreement voiced in the absence of a strong sense of collective responsibility can prove ephemeral. This was true at a US-based global financial-services company, where a business-unit leader initially agreed during a committee meeting not to change the fee structure for a key product but later reversed course. The temptation was too great: the fee changes helped the leader’s own business unit—albeit ultimately at the expense of other units whose revenues were cannibalized.

One of the most important characteristics of a good decision is that it’s made in such a way that it will be fully and effectively implemented. That requires commitment, something that is not always straightforward in companies where consensus is a strong part of the culture (and key players acquiesce reluctantly) or after big-bet situations where the vigorous debate we recommended earlier has taken place. At a mining company, real commitment proved difficult because the culture valued “firefighting” behavior. In staff meetings, company executives would quickly agree to take on new tasks because it made them look good in front of the CEO, but they weren’t truly committed to following through. It was only when the leadership team changed this dynamic by focusing on follow-up, execution risks, and bandwidth constraints that execution improved.

While it’s important to devote enough resources to help propel follow-through, and it’s also important to assign accountability for getting things done to an individual or at most a small group of individuals, the biggest challenge is to foster an “all-in” culture that encourages everyone to pull together. That often means involving as many people as possible in the outcome—something that, paradoxically, in the end will enable the decision to be implemented more speedily.

While it’s important to assign accountability for getting things done to an individual, the biggest challenge is to foster an “all-in” culture that encourages everyone to pull together.

Follow the value

There are many keys to better decision making, but in our experience focusing on the three practices discussed here—and on the commitment to implement decisions once taken—can reap early and substantial dividends. This presupposes, of course, that the decisions leaders make at all levels of the organization reflect the company’s strategy and its value-creation agenda. That may seem obvious, but it bears repeating because all too often it simply doesn’t happen. Take the manufacturing company whose operations managers, faced with calls from the sales team to raise production in response to anticipated customer demand, had to consider whether they should spend unbudgeted money on overtime and hiring extra staff. With their bonuses linked exclusively to cost targets, they faced a dilemma. If they took the decision to increase costs and new orders failed to materialize, their remuneration would suffer; if the sales team managed to win new business, the sales representatives would get the kudos, but the operations team would receive no additional credit and no additional reward. Not surprisingly, the operations managers, in their weekly planning meeting, opted not to take the risk, rejected a proposal to set up a new production line, and thereby hindered (albeit inadvertently) the group’s higher growth ambitions. This poor-quality—and in our view avoidable—outcome was the direct result of siloed thinking and a set of narrow incentives in conflict with the group’s broader strategy and value-creation agenda. The underlying management challenge is part of a dynamic we see repeated again and again: when senior executives fail to explore—and then explain—the context and underlying strategic intentions associated with various targets and directives they set, they make unintended consequences inevitable. Worse, the lack of clarity makes it very difficult for colleagues further down in the organization to use their judgment to see past the silos and remedy the situation.

Designing an organization to deliver its strategic objectives—setting a clear mission, aligning incentives—is a big topic and outside the scope of this article. But if different functions and teams do not feel a connection to the bigger picture, the likelihood of executives making good decisions, whether or not they adopt the ideas discussed earlier, is significantly diminished.

Source:, April 2019

About the authors: Aaron De Smet is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Houston office, Gregor Jost is a partner in the Vienna office, and Leigh Weiss is a senior expert in the Boston office.

The authors wish to thank Iskandar Aminov, Alison Boyd, Elizabeth Foote, and Kanika Kakkar for their contributions to this article.

Five (5) easy ways to overcome procrastination

Posted in Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on March 22nd, 2019 by admin

Procrastination is like a sore throat; it’s a symptom with many possible causes. Unless you know the cause, the treatment for the symptom might things worse. This column contains the five most common causes of procrastination and how to overcome them.

1. The size of a task seems overwhelming.

Explanation: Every time you think about the task it seems like a huge mountain of work that you’ll never be able to complete. You therefore avoid starting.

Solution: Break the task into small steps and then start working on them. This builds momentum and makes the task far less daunting.

Example: You’ve decided to write a book. Rather than sitting down and trying to write the book (which will probably cause you to stare at the blank screen), spend one hour on each of the following sub-tasks:

1. Jot down as many ideas as possible.

2. Sort the ideas into an outline.

3. List out anecdotes you’ll want to include.

4. Write a sample anecdote to determine style.

5. Review existing materials (e.g. presentations).

6. Assign those materials to sections of your outline.

7. Write the first three paragraphs of a sample chapter.

8. Create a schedule to write 2 pages a day.

2. The number of tasks seems overwhelming.

Explanation: Your to-do list has so many tasks in it that you feel as if you’ll never be able to finish them all, so why bother getting started?

Solution: Combine the tasks into a conceptual activity and then set a time limit for how long you’ll pursue that activity.

Example: Your email account is being peppered by so many requests and demands that you feel as if you can’t possibly get them done. Rather than fret about the pieces and parts, set aside a couple of hours to “do email.” Schedule a similar session tomorrow or later that day.

Thinking of the work as an activity rather than a bunch of action items makes them seem less burdensome.

3. A set of tasks seem repetitive and boring.

Explanation: You’re a creative person with an active mind so you naturally put off any activity that doesn’t personally interest you.

Solution: Set a time limit for completing a single task in the set and then compete against yourself to see if you can beat that time limit. Reward yourself each time you beat the clock.

Example: You’re a newly-hired salesperson who must write personalized emails to two dozen customers. The work involves quickly researching their account, addressing any issues they’ve had with the previous salesperson, and then introducing yourself.

Rather than just slogging through the work, estimate the maximum amount of time it should take to write one letter (let’s say 5 minutes). It should thus take you 120 minutes (2 hours) to write all of them.

Start the stopwatch, write the first email. If you have time left over, do something else (like read the news). When the stopwatch buzzes, reset, write the second email, etc.

4. The task seems so important that it’s daunting.

Explanation: You realize that if you screw this task up, it might mean losing your job or missing a huge opportunity. You avoid it because you don’t want to risk failure.

Solution: Contact somebody you trust and ask if they’ll review your work (if the task is written) or act as a sounding board (if the task is verbal). Doing the task for your reviewer is low-risk and thus the task is easier to start. The reviewer’s perspective and approval provides you extra confidence when you actually execute the task.

Example: You need to write an email demanding payment from a customer who’s in arrears. Because you don’t want to damage the relationship and yet need to be paid, it’s a difficult balancing act–so difficult that you avoid writing the email.

To break the mental log-jam, ask a colleague or friend if they’ll review your email before you send it to see if it hits the right tone. Writing the email then becomes easier because you’re writing it for your friend to read rather than for the customer.

Problem: You just don’t feel like working.

Explanation: You’re feeling burned out and generally unmotivated, so you’re finding it very hard to get down to work.

Solution: You have two choices: 1) reschedule the activity for a time when you’ll be more motivated or 2) motivate yourself in the short-term by setting a reward.

Example: You need to write a trip report but you’re tired after a long day of travel. While you know that the report will be more accurate if you write it now, you decide to write it tomorrow morning after breakfast and coffee–a time when you’re typically more motivated.

Alternatively, you motivate yourself short-term promising yourself that you’ll buy and download a book that you’ve been wanting to read… but only if you write the report tonight.

Source:, 7 July 2017
By: Geoffrey James


More than work-life balance, focus on your energy

Posted in Allmänt, Executive Coaching on March 11th, 2019 by admin

The idea that we need “work-life balance” is too simplistic. Incorporate these three suggestions to help better manage your energy.

How do you ensure work-life balance? I heard it a lot after my third child was born, and I hate this familiar question. It implies that work is an energy drainer and life an energy restorer. We spend a third of our time at work and many things there energize us, while plenty of things at home deplete us (like getting children to bed). The idea that we need “work-life balance” to stay motivated is too simplistic.

The idea that we need “work-life balance” to stay motivated is too simplistic.

Rather, we simply must manage our energy. We must learn critical skills to balance our energy levels to ensure we alternate high-performance periods with resourcing times. Athletes do this by alternating training with resourcing activities, and we must do the same via activities that give us energy.

There are four primary types of energy: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Physical energy is the most familiar. It defines how tired we feel and how well we feel in our bodies. It is why we recognize we must get up and walk periodically. Physical refresh points in our daily schedules matter, and not just long-term plans to get fit.

Mental energy is what we get from analytical and thinking tasks. Consider times when you are fine physically but mentally tired after a long period of concentration. We each have mental tasks that seem to drain us or lift us.   

Emotional energy derives from connecting with others—from giving and receiving love or appreciation, or helping a friend or colleague discuss their troubles. In turn, negative emotions such as fear, frustration or anger drain energy and cripple performance. 

Spiritual energy is what we get from doing something meaningful to us, something that speaks to our spirit—it can take the form of wisdom, compassion, integrity, joy, love, creativity or peace. We each have experienced working hard, and maybe late, on a project, and becoming physically and mentally tired. But somehow, we gain the energy to continue because it’s something that has fundamental meaning.

Understanding these types of energy is important for leaders who are confronted with constant change. Most of my clients are managing an organizational transformation of some sort. For instance, a client told me how nervous she was to see her team burn out when their change journey was just beginning. She wasn’t sure how to retain the momentum and pace over the long run. Also, she felt that all eyes were on her and worried people would pick up on any flagging energy level and fret that they were doing poorly or the organization was in trouble. As a leader, your emotions affect—and infect—the organization.   

So, what can we do to better manage our energy?

  1. Recognize you can’t stay at high energy and that time to recuperate is essential. Accepting this idea is the first step to better managing your energy.
  2. Don’t bundle all the bad stuff together, which eats into your energy reserves and makes it harder to bounce back up.
  3. Give yourself little boosts each day. Expressing gratitude, for instance, is a potent energy booster.

Basically, adopt ways to quickly boost your energy by identifying what drives and drains your personal energy levels. Then, incorporate them in your daily life at work and at home. Whether it’s a three-minute song you listen to between energy-draining meetings or a quick phone call to a best friend, find what it is. It could also be something that doesn’t seem natural, such as smiling when you don’t feel like it. Smiling actually releases happiness-inducing brain chemicals, so faking it can have a positive effect. Grinning at your screen now can help boost your energy!

Source:, February 2019
Author: Gila Vadnai-Tolub

Träning minskar risken för depression

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching on March 11th, 2019 by admin

Träning är effektivt mot depression, slås fast i en studie med över 600 000 deltagare. Till skillnad från tidigare studier kan den här slå fast ett tydligt orsakssamband.

Sambandet mellan träning och minskad risk för depression har visats i tidigare studier, men då har det funnits tveksamheter om huruvida de som tränar har lägre risk att drabbas, eller om personer med risk för depression helt enkelt tränar mindre än andra. Den nya studien, redovisad i Svenska Dagbladet, är unik genom att den visar ett orsakssamband.

”Den visar på ett mer övertygande sätt än tidigare studier att träning skyddar mot återinsjuknande i depression”, säger Lina Martinsson, överläkare och psykiater vid Centrum för psykiatriforskning vid Karolinska universitetssjukhuset Huddinge, till tidningen.

Resultatet gör att träning borde rekommenderas både som behandling och för att förebygga framtida problem, anser Lina Martinsson.

”Man behöver använda den friska kroppen för att se till att den drabbade hjärnan får hälsoeffekter”, säger hon.

Den brittiska studien publiceras i tidskriften Jama Psychiatry.

Källa:, 11 mars 2019
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Höjd lön? Var en skitstövel!

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching on February 4th, 2019 by admin

Trevliga personer får sämre lön. Över ett helt yrkesliv handlar det om miljontals kronor, enligt en dansk studie.  

Studien, som Harvard Business Review återger, har följt en grupp amerikanska män och kvinnor från grundskolan på 1920-talet och genom hela arbetslivet.

Gemensamt för personerna i gruppen är ett IQ över 140, alltså långt över medel. Den danska forskaren Miriam Gensowski har sedan tittat på gruppen utifrån de fem huvudsakliga karaktärsdragen: öppenhet, samvetsgrannhet, extraversion, vänlighet och neuroticism och satt resultaten i relationen till löneutvecklingen.

Eftersom kvinnorna inte haft samma karriärmöjligheter som männen under de här åren har fokus hamnat på de arbetande männens egenskaper. Datan visar bland annat att öppenhet har varit en viktig faktor för lönenivån. Individer med en standardavvikelse från medel vad gäller öppenhet tjänade i snitt 5 miljoner kronor mer under en livstid, eller 16,7 procent mer än medel. Även att vara utåtriktad kan ge utslag i lönekuvertet i form av ett påslag om 4,4 miljoner kronor extra under ett arbetsliv för en standardavvikelse.

Att vara snäll och medgörlig är däremot inte att rekommendera utifrån studiens resultat, om hög lön är viktigt vill säga. Enligt forskningsresultaten tjänade män med en standardavvikelse i vänlighet och medgörlighet 8 procent mindre än medel, motsvarande 2,4 miljoner kronor, under en karriär. Studien flaggar dock för att individer med den typen av personlighet kan vara mer benägna att söka sig till underordnade yrkesroller med lägre lön som följd. 

Johan Lagerbielke, forskare vid #Handelshögskolan i Stockholm i ekonomisk psykologi, menar att det inte är en tillfällighet att extroverta personer hamnar på säljsidan.

”Det är ofta där pengarna finns. När det handlar om egenskapen agreeable så hör man ju på ordet att det handlar om någon som är benägen att gå med på någonting, den variabeln brukar i förhandling kallas för ”tillmötesgående”. Har man höga värden på  ”tillmötesgående” är man mindre benägen att konfrontera i en förhandling”, säger han.

Studien visar även att löneskillnaderna främst syns efter att man har fyllt 30. Det är åren mellan 40 och 60 som de extroverta och mindre trevliga medarbetarna ofta drar ifrån i löneutvecklingen.

Något som går lite stick i stäv med att egenskaperna skulle vara de som påverkar lönerna mest. Hade de personliga egenskaperna påverkat förhandlingsbeteendet som i sin tur påverkat lönen så borde skillnaderna synts tidigare i yrkeslivet, menar Johan Lagerbielke.

”Om du får störst löneökning mellan 40 och 60 känns det mer som om det är effekten av personens karriärutveckling.”

Samtidigt är Johan Lagerbielkes erfarenheter att den som vågar kräva höga summor i en löneförhandling ofta är den som går vinnande ur en sådan jämfört med den som lägger sig på nivån som erbjuds. Där förlorar den medgörlige, även fast det såklart finns gränser.

”Om man tar i lite grann får man ofta ett bättre utgångsläge. Många tycker att det är jobbigt att lägga ett första bud. Men föreslår du en lite högre lönehöjning än din chef tänkt så är det omedvetet svårt att gå ner för mycket från det budet. Det får en psykologisk effekt.”

Källa:, 4 februari 2018

Varför låtsas unga att de älskar sina jobb?

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on January 31st, 2019 by admin

Jag såg hur några av de skarpaste hjärnorna i min generation arbetade 18-timmarsdagar – och sedan skröt om det på Instagram. När blev prestationsbaserad arbetsnarkomani en livsstil? 

Jag har aldrig börjat min arbetsvecka – varken i kön till morgonkaffet, i en proppfull tunnelbanevagn eller när jag går igenom min inkorg – med att pausa, titta upp i himlen och viska TackGudattdetärmåndag. 

Tydligen gör det mig till en generationsförrädare. Det lärde jag mig under en rad besök på Weworks kontorshotell i New York, där prydnadskuddar berättar för de upptagna hyresgästerna att de ska ”göra vad de älskar”. Neonskyltar begär att de ska ”jobba hårdare” och väggmålningar sprider budskapet om TGIM (Thank God it’s Monday). 

Till och med gurkorna i Weworks vattenkylare har en agenda. ”Sluta inte när du är trött…” karvade någon nyligen in i grönsakerna: ”…sluta när du är klar”. 

Välkommen till ”hustle”-kulturen, som innebär hårt slit för karriären. I den är man besatt av att sträva vidare, outtröttligt positiv och helt humorbefriad. När man upptäckt den, är den omöjlig att fly ifrån. ”Rise and grind” (Upp och jobba) är både temat för en Nike-kampanj och titeln på en bok av en av jurymedlemmarna i tv-programmet ”Shark tank”. Nya mediestartups som ”The hustle”, som ger ut ett populärt företagsnyhetsbrev och anordnar konferenser, och One37pm, en contentbyrå som skapats av en av ”hustle”-kulturens skyddshelgon, Gary Vaynerchuk, glorifierar ambition, inte som ett sätt att nå ett mål – utan som en livsstil. 

”I dag är entreprenörskap mer än karriären”, står det på One37pm:s hemsida: 

”Det är ambition, ’grit’ och hårt arbete. Att se ett liveuppträdande lyfter din kreativitet… att träna sig svettig skickar ut dina endorfiner… att lyssna på en visionär expanderar ditt tankesätt.” 

Ur det perspektivet slutar man aldrig att arbeta hårt – man går aldrig utanför ett slags arbetsförlopp där det främsta syftet med att träna eller gå på konsert är att få inspiration som hjälper till i ens arbete. 

Ryan Harwood, chef för One37pm:s moderföretag, berättar för mig att sajtens innehåll riktas till en yngre generation som vill följa sina drömmar. 

– De vill veta hur de kan äga varje ögonblick, säger han. 

”Att äga varje ögonblick” är ett smart sätt att döpa om ”att överleva ekorrhjulet”. I den nya ”hustle”-kulturen är det inte nog att stå ut med eller bara tycka om sitt jobb. Arbetarna ska älska det de gör, och marknadsföra den kärleken på sociala medier, så att deras identitet smälter samman med arbetsgivarens. Varför skulle LinkedIn annars bygga sin egen version av Snapchat stories? 

Det är glamoröst slit, och det har blivit mainstream. Tydligaste tecknet är att Wework, som investerare nyligen värderade till 47 miljarder dollar, är på väg att bli kontorskulturens Starbucks. De har exporterat sitt varumärke av prestationsbaserad arbetsnarkomani till 27 länder, med 400.000 hyresgäster, inklusive arbetare från 30 procent av världens 500 största företag. I januari offentliggjorde Weworks grundare, Adam Neumann, att hans startup skulle byta namn till ”The we co” för att återspegla att företaget nu expanderar sin verksamhet till även boende och utbildning. För att beskriva förändringen skrev Weworks moderbolag Fast Company:

”I stället för att bara hyra ett skrivbord siktar företaget på att integrera alla aspekter av människors liv, i både fysiska och digitala världar”. Man föreställer sig att idealkunden är någon som är så betagen av estetiken i Wework-kontoret, med gurkbudskap och allt, att hon sover i en ”Welive”-lägenhet, tränar på ett ”Rise by we”-gym och skickar sina barn till en ”Wegrow”-skola. 

Ur det perspektivet känns ”Office space”, lovsången till Generation X:s slackers som kom ut för 20 år sedan, som science fiction från en verklighet långt bort. Det är nästan omöjligt att föreställa sig att dagens arbetsmyra skulle erkänna, som huvudkaraktären Peter Gibbons gör:

”Det är inte att jag är lat. Det är bara att jag inte bryr mig.” Likgiltighet på arbetsplatsen har helt enkelt inte en socialt accepterad hashtagg. 

”Det är bistert och exploaterande”

Det är inte svårt att se arbetskulturen som ett bedrägeri. Att förmå en generation av arbetskraft att arbeta hårt är bekvämt för de som är i toppen. 

Majoriteten av de människor som slår på trumman för arbetsmanin är inte de som faktiskt gör jobbet. Det säger David Heinemeier Hansson, medgrundare till mjukvaruföretag Basecamp.

– Det är chefer, finansiärer och ägare. 

Vi talades vid i oktober, när han marknadsförde sin nya bok ”It doesn’t have to be crazy at work”, om att skapa en hälsosam företagskultur. 

Heinemar Hansson sade att trots att studier visar att långa arbetsdagar inte gynnar varken produktiviteten eller kreativiteten lever myten om överarbete kvar, eftersom den rättfärdigar den extrema rikedom som skapas för den lilla eliten inom techvärlden. 

– Det är bistert och exploaterande, sade han. 

Elon Musk, som kommer att få nära 50 miljarder dollar i aktiekompensation från sitt företag Tesla, håller en viss prestationsnivå. Han är ett perfekt exempel på någon som hyllar att andra arbetar hårt – när det egentligen framför allt gynnar honom. Han twittrade i november att det finns enklare arbetsplatser än Tesla, ”men ingen förändrade världen på 40 timmar i veckan”. Det faktiska antalet timmar ”varierar beroende på person” fortsatte han, men är ”runt 80 timmar i medel, och ibland upp till 100. Smärtgränsen ökar exponentiellt efter 80”. 

Musk, som har över 24 miljoner Twitterföljare, uppmärksammade också att om man älskar det man gör ”känns det (oftast) inte som jobb”. Till och med han behövde mjuka upp lögnen om ”TGIM” med en parentes. 

För de som tillber evigt arbete är det förenat med skuldkänslor att tillbringa tid med något som inte är jobbrelaterat. Jonathan Crawford, en entreprenör baserad i San Francisco, berättar för mig att han offrade sina relationer och lade på sig mer än 20 kilo medan han arbetade för Storenvy, hans e-handelsstartup. Om han socialiserade var det på ett nätverksevenemang. Om han läste var det böcker om företagande. Han gjorde nästan aldrig någonting som inte gav direkt avkastning för hans företag. Crawford bytte livsstil när han insåg att hans liv fick honom att känna sig eländig. Som entreprenör hos investeringsfirman ”500 Startups” säger han nu till sina kolleger att de bör hitta icke-jobbrelaterade aktiviteter, som att läsa skönlitteratur, titta på film eller spela spel.  Detta låter på något sätt som ett radikalt råd. 

– Det är märkligt ögonöppnande för dem, eftersom de inte insett att de ser sig själva som resurser att förbruka, säger Crawford. 

År 2019 är det lätt att bli beroende av tempot och stressen i arbetet. Bernie Klinder, en konsult vid ett stort teknikföretag, säger att han försökt begränsa sig till fem 11-timmarsdagar per vecka, vilket ger en extra dags produktivitet. 

”Om dina kolleger är tävlingsinriktade framstår du som en slacker om du arbetar en ‘normal arbetsvecka’,” skriver han i ett e-mejl. 

Om dina kolleger är tävlingsinriktade framstår du som en slacker om du arbetar en ”normal arbetsvecka”.

Han är ändå realistisk om sin plats i ekorrhjulet. 

– Jag försöker komma ihåg att om jag dör i morgon kommer alla mina arbetsplatsutmärkelser hamna i soporna nästa dag, och mitt jobb kommer att annonseras ut innan min dödsannons. 

Längtan efter måndagsmöten 

Den logiska slutpunkten av överdrivet arbete är utbrändhet. Det var ämnet i en viral essä av BuzzFeeds kulturkritiker Anne Helen Petersen, som på ett tänkvärt sätt adresserade en av orimligheterna i de ungas arbetsmani. Nämligen: Om millenniegenerationen anses vara lat och bortskämd, hur kan den då också vara besatt av att vara bäst på jobbet? 

Millenniegenerationen, menar Petersen, är bara desperat i sin strävan efter att leva upp till sina höga förväntningar. En hel generation studenter har uppfostrats till att tro att bra betyg och överdrivna prestationer vid fritidsaktiviteter kommer att löna sig genom utvecklande jobb som uppfyller deras passioner. 

I stället hamnade de i osäkra, meningslösa arbeten under ett berg av studieskulder. Och därför är det faktum att de framställer sig själva som att de älskar att jobba och längtar efter måndagsmorgnarna, förståeligt om man ser det som en slags försvarsmekanism. 

De flesta arbeten, även de flesta bra arbeten, är fulla av meningslöst slit. De flesta företag sviker oss på något sätt. Och flera år efter att HBO-satiren ”Silicon Valley” gjorde en återkommande poäng av det uttryckslösa mottot ”att göra världen till en bättre plats” uppmuntrar många företag fortfarande hårt arbete med hjälp av högtravande budskap. 

Till exempel säger Spotify, ett företag som låter dig lyssna på musik, att deras mål är att ”låsa upp potentialen i den mänskliga kreativiteten”. Dropbox, som låter dig ladda upp filer och annat, säger att deras mål är att ”frigöra världens kreativa energi genom att designa ett mer upplyst arbetssätt”. David Spencer, professor i ekonomi vid Leeds-universitetets handelshögskola, säger att den typen av skenhelighet från företag, ekonomer och politiker kan härledas till merkantilismen i 1500-talets Europa. 

– Det har varit en pågående kamp från arbetsgivare att  upphöja arbete på sätt som distraherar från de oattraktiva sidorna, säger han. 

Men sådan propaganda kan också ge bakslag. I 1600-talets England sågs arbete som ett botemedel mot diverse laster, men den olönsamma sanningen drev bara arbetarna till att dricka mer. 

Internetföretagen kan ha felkalkylerat när de uppmuntrar anställda att likställa arbetet med deras inneboende värde som människor. Efter att under lång tid haft ett högt anseende har techindustrin upplevt ett hårt och snabbt bakslag i allt från frågan om ett monopolistiskt beteende till att de skulle sprida desinformation och frammana rasistiskt våld. Och anställda har upptäckt hur mycket makt de har. I november deltog 20.000 Google-anställda i en strejk för att protestera mot hur företaget hanterat sexuella trakasserier. Andra Google-anställda drev igenom att ett AI-kontrakt med Pentagon, som skulle göra militära drönare dödligare, bröts. 

Heinemeier Hansson menar att anställdas protester är ett bevis på att millienniegenerationens arbetare i slutändan kommer att göra revolt mot en kultur som premierar överarbete. 

– Människor kommer inte tolerera det här, och de kommer inte att köpa propagandan om att evig lycka innebär att man ser över sina egna toalettpauser, säger han. 

Han refererar till en intervju med Marissa Mayer, tidigare chef för Yahoo, från 2016 där hon sade att det är möjligt att arbeta 130 timmar i veckan ”om man är strategisk kring när man sover, när man duschar och hur ofta man går på toaletten”. 

I slutändan måste arbetarna bestämma om de beundrar eller avfärdar denna nivå av hängivenhet. Mayers kommentarer blev vitt spridda på sociala medier när intervjun publicerades, men sedan dess har användare av internetforumet Quora hängivet delat med sig av sina egna strategier för att härma hennes schema. På samma sätt har Musks twitterinlägg om ”smärtgräns” fått mycket kritik, men också många hyllningar och förfrågningar från människor som vill ha jobb. 

Den bistra verkligheten 2019 är att det inte anses pinsamt att be miljardärer om jobb via Twitter. Det är snarare ett fullt acceptabelt sätt att gå tillväga. Ur ett perspektiv måste man beundra de hårt arbetande som ser ett dystert system och förstår att för att nå framgång behöver man helt skamlöst bli en del av systemet.

Om vi är dömda att streta på tills vi dör kan vi lika gärna låtsas att vi gillar det. Även på måndagar. 

Denna artikel publicerades först i New York Times , en tidning som DN samarbetar med. 

Översättning till svenska: Evelyn Jones 

Källa:, 31 januari 2019