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Posts Tagged ‘energy’

How to Align your Team Behind Change

December 4th, 2013 by The Forum Corporation
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In conversations with our oil and energy clients, we’ve been noticing a repeating theme: a strategic shift from an emphasis on top-line growth towards an emphasis on profitability.  So how are these companies effectively and efficiently making this shift?

Executive leaders in Fortune 1000 oil and energy companies are scratching their heads on how to execute this simple transition. After all, companies are still providing the same goods and services and serving the same clients. The critical transformation that needs to be made relates to an organization’s employee base and its understanding of two important questions:

  • What does profitability mean in my job?
  • What changes must I make accordingly?

One of our clients, a provider of oilfield services & products, realized that in order to see this through, a fundamental disruption in their workflow processes would have to occur. As we poured over their organizational chart, which had become flatter over time, it became apparent than mid-level leaders were serving as the bridge that could influence up to upper-level management and manage down as something akin to a union rep for lower level employees.  They could translate organizational changes into language that individual contributors could understand.

This would have been one of the more straightforward projects to execute had our client not also been facing the challenge of motivating and retaining young talent within their organization, a common problem in the oil and energy sector.

When we analyzed this client’s organizational chart and workflow, we realized that fewer than 25% of their employees had access to mentoring or coaching. If a company wishes to implement a major disruption in its workforce and change the thinking that drives its culture, then this lack of mentorship won’t work.

So Forum partnered with this client to implement a mentoring program throughout its ranks. We also focused on the core tenets of clarity, unity, and agility as driving principles behind our client’s growth and successes.

Clarity in vision across all tiers of the organization. Employees need to be clear on what their job means to the organization, and how they can most productively contribute to a greater vision.

Unity in collective action. As tiers and divisions are aligned, the workforce becomes ‘greater than the sum of its parts’, and operational synergies are established where dissonance once existed.

Agility in reaction and response. As an organization shifts its fundamental focus (such as shifting from top-line growth to a targeted strategy), it is imperative that teams are able to collaborate across divisions, that employees are equipped with the skills to respond to dynamic market conditions, and that units are able to shift direction smoothly to minimize opportunity cost.

For this client in the oil and energy sector, a combination of clarity, unity and agility, and the appropriate skill sets and competencies in leadership, enabled a smooth transition that is translatable to any company going through a transition.

For another story of how one company successfully made a strategic shift, check out our recent webinar, Fostering Behavior Change to Create a Lasting Business Impact.

Leverage Other Departments for Team Growth

October 2nd, 2013 by The Forum Corporation
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Wendy Axelrod Photo Nov 2010In this fourth and final post in a series published on, Wendy Axelrod, Associate and Executive Coach in The Forum Corporation’s resource network, discusses how managers should look outside of their departments in order to leverage growth opportunities. She asserts that employees will display new energy when projects extend their frontier.

Do you have any real-world examples of how your company equips managers to put development directly into people’s work on a daily basis? We welcome you to share your comments below, or join the discussion via Twitter and Facebook.

Leadership is all about Sleeping and Giving Up

August 29th, 2013 by The Forum Corporation
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I recently had the opportunity to hear Arianna Huffington speak at HubSpot’s Inbound Conference.  She spoke on a number of topics during her address, but she had three points on leadership that really struck a chord with me.

  1. Leaders would do better to act like gazelles: When gazelles see a threat, they run and run until the threat is gone and then they graze.  In current workplaces, we are often running all of the time, and not taking the time to graze.  We eat lunch at our desks, we leave the office but check our email until we fall asleep, and we do this as a badge of honor. We brag about this and feel superior to those that don’t do those things. But why? Are people more efficient when they are working 24/7? Research points to no. This leads to her second point.
  2. Sleep is a leader’s strongest weapon: An exhausted leader isn’t a good leader and neither is a burnt out one. Taking the time away from work to relax and renew one’s energy and brainpower will lead to better decisions and more efficient work. This doesn’t just refer to sleep at night. Many leaders throughout history, including JFK and Winston Churchill were known for taking naps, and no one thinks less of them because of it.
  3. Don’t be afraid to quit: When something is not working, leaders need to know when to throw in the towel.  Whether it’s a project, a new hire, a strategic initiative, etc. a good leader needs to be able to recognize when it’s not going well and have the courage to end it before it gets worse. It is always tough to admit a mistake but people typically have more respect for someone that owns up to mistakes and attempts to right them quickly than someone that lets a problem fester.

It’s not just a leader’s responsibility to hold themselves to these points, but to also create a workplace culture that encourages this for employees. A culture in which people truly unplug from their work in the evening and are encouraged to recognize when something is failing and to fix it is a better workplace for all employees. 

Do you think that in today’s world, a workplace that follows Arianna Huffington’s tips is possible or is it idealistic? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Four Tips To Keep Employees Engaged During the Summer

August 9th, 2013 by Forum Corporation
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Summer is in full swing for those of us in the northern hemisphere, and while that’s good news for everyone, businesses have to grapple with the fact that many of their employees will be plotting about how often they can take off early on Fridays to hit the beach.

It’s more than a hunch that summer weather saps productivity and employee motivation. Research shows that both employee productivity and engagement decrease as the temperature rises. The optimal temperature for maximum productivity is between 70 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit, which feels more like Spring or Fall. .

Creating a work culture with highly-engaged employees is a hot topic right now because research shows that engaged employees are happy, more productive, and are more willing to go the extra mile, which has a direct impact on the bottom line.  Overall, just 30 percent of U.S. workers are “engaged” in their jobs, although that number has gone up slightly since the Great Recession in 2009, according to the most recent Gallup Employee Engagement Index.

Besides monitoring the thermostat, savvy employers can help keep their employees’ heads and hearts in the game – when they’d rather be elsewhere – by taking these four steps:

1. Keep it Fun: Work doesn’t stop during the summer, deadlines must still be met and projects completed, but that doesn’t mean that warm weather should be ignored either. Offering up summer-related perks and activities, including the classic early-release summer Fridays; ice cream truck visits once a week and summer outings will help keep employees motivated during the summer, but still feeling like they’re taking advantage of the warmer temperatures.

2. Be Flexible: Even if summer hours aren’t in the offering, try to accommodate employee vacation requests, even if they’re last minute, as most staffers will ask for time off this time of year.  A 2012 survey from Harris Interactive found that Americans did not use about 9.2 days of vacation, up from 6.2 days in 2011. Rested employees are far more productive at work, so encourage workers to take those summer breaks.

3. Foster Year-Round Engagement:  No matter what the weather is, employees who feel as though they work in a culture where they’re trusted, respected and where their unique contributions are valued will be highly motivated to excel at their jobs. Savvy employers know this and are always evaluating their tactics to make sure the proper systems are in place to create a positive work culture.

4. Don’t Forget Training: Training opportunities should not go by the wayside just because a large percentage of the office is off on vacation during June, July and August. Employees who are constantly building up their skills and knowledge will be more engaged and happy that they’re getting the training they need to advance in their jobs. Perhaps an all-day offsite in a gorgeous location with a business expert can combine training and summer fun.

In the end, managers should check-in with their team leads to get their thoughts and take the “engagement temperature” on how to best engage their employees and liven up the office when everyone would rather be outside. That’s the most effective way to foster engagement and drive business results in the slower summer months.

Take a break – and switch off!

July 4th, 2013 by The Forum Corporation
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July is upon us and for those of us in Europe this marks the true beginning of summer (even if the weather doesn’t quite agree).  Many parts of Europe effectively shut down for a month while everyone heads off on holiday.  However, a new study by the Chartered Management Institute this week found that only one in two UK managers will take a holiday this summer, and those that do take a break will be working whilst away.

It was a great report but I suspect many read it with one eye on their ‘million and one things to do’, list – trying to recall the last time they had a proper break – or on a beach somewhere supposedly switching off from work.


This survey highlights how companies and managers are still not focusing enough attention on the importance of maintaining a well-rested workforce that’s happy, healthy and more positive towards their work.

We’ve seen study after study showing the impact of stress and sickness absence on the bottom line. According to a report in June last year by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), sickness absence cost employers around £6.5 billion a year.

The cost of workplace absence to businesses is such a problem that, in the UK, the Government has recently announced proposals for employers to get tax relief of up to £500 per worker to pay to use third-party providers to tackle sickness absence.

But the key is to treat the cause and not the symptom.

By engaging with your team regularly – either through one to one’s or an employee engagement survey – you can find out how they’re feeling about their work before it’s too late and they end up on long-term absence.   Are they taking enough time off or do they appear overworked and stressed?

Numerous studies have proved that engagement has a direct, positive and measurable impact on key performance metrics such as absenteeism, employee productivity, loyalty and retention.  According to the CIPD you can increase your business income by 19% if your staff are highly engaged as they’re happier and willing to go that extra mile. If staff are happy in work then it helps drive commitment, motivation and business results.

By creating a culture that encourages staff to take a break and tries to accommodate holiday requests, even if they’re last minute, will go a long way to making employees feel valued, appreciated and more likely to enjoy their job. Check if they need support to get actions finalised before they go away. Help them to focus their time properly and prioritise workloads – so they aren’t working an extra eight hours a week to get work wrapped up as the CMI report suggests.

And once staff are away, use the opportunity to empower and develop other employees by delegating tasks in their absence.  This will not only motivate others in your team but offer reassurance to the person on holiday that their work is covered and they can switch off completely.

So, if you’re reading this blog when you’re supposed to be on holiday, then put your phone or Ipad down, relax and take a well deserved break.

Unleash the Power

June 21st, 2013 by Janine Carlson
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No, we are not talking about solar energy or windmills. It is the untapped energy your employees can contribute to the success of your organisation, if they chose to do so.  Of course, it is the “chose” part that is tricky and a hot topic of discussion in South East Asia and many other regions worldwide. The Straits Times, Singapore’s largest newspaper, recently published an article by Cynthia Stuckey, Forum’s managing director, Asia Pacific, giving advice on the topic. Here are a few highlights.

“THE world’s most successful companies have known for years that having an environment in which employees “show up” every day, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well, is essential to achieving the bottom line.”

“Leaders can take actions to enhance engagement and results not through a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but in targeting actions to the specific needs and expectations of their employees.”

”There are engagement factors that allow companies to predict engagement levels…

  • Being encouraged to offer opinions and ideas to make meaningful decisions;
  • Doing satisfying, meaningful work I am good at;
  • Working in an environment that provides opportunities for my family to understand the organisation and the work I do;
  • Feeling that others value my contributions;
  • Working with people who share my high standards of performance, take initiative and accept accountability; and
  • Having opportunities to hear and talk about the organisation’s strategy, goals, plans and activities.”

Additionally, five engagement need profiles were identified and advice for how leaders can drive engagement was provided. The full article is available on The Straits Times to subscribers.

For more information on employee engagement, you can listen to Cynthia’s radio interview on employee engagement that appeared on 938Live or download Forum’s global report on employee engagement. To discuss employee engagement in Asia Pacific with Forum, email, call +65-6505-2050 or visit


Getting Your “R” On

March 26th, 2013 by Melissa Powers
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In my last post I said I would share my secret for being successful in sales as an introvert and here it is…I call it Getting Your “R” on.  This is really more than just the introvert’s guide to success. I see it as the recipe for success in business and life for both introverts and extroverts alike.  It is especially critical during these lean times where most of us are being asked to do more with less.  Almost everyone I encounter is working at warp speed, trying to get it all done, on time and on-budget. That’s okay for the short term, but it becomes difficult and draining to maintain a constant, demanding pace over the long haul.

I call it Getting Your “R” on because I recently had the opportunity to spend a few glorious days at Canyon Ranch.  It was the perfect time-out I needed to re-charge, re-energize and re-evaluate where I was in terms of my physical, mental and spiritual energy.  When I practice renewing my energy levels in these key areas, my mind is razor sharp.  I am laser-focused and am able to be more creative in the solutions I offer clients.  I ask better questions and have more productive meetings.  I am energized and passionate about what I do and what my company offers.  Clients can hear the enthusiasm in my voice.  Simply put, I am highly engaged and have found over time, much more successful.

The key for us as individuals is to respect and honor ourselves and our unique personality styles and what each of us needs when it comes rejuvenating our energy supplies, so we are at our best at work and our personal lives.  For introverts, perhaps Getting Your “R” on is about internal pursuits such as reading, running or reflecting. For extroverts, it may be more about an external focus such as relating and re-connecting with others. One of my favorite ways to re-charge when I am not at the “Ranch” is to spend time with kids and animals for some real play time.  Adults need play, and kids and animals are experts in this area.

By managing ourselves in this fashion, protecting and bolstering our energy we are able to be the best salesperson, parent or chief bottle washer that we can be.  Don’t wait until you take that vacation several months from now – ask yourself what you can do today or in the next hour to give yourself and your brain a break.   It can really be as simple as getting up to get some water, chatting with a co-worker for a few minutes and having a laugh or taking a walk around the block.  I promise you – you and everyone you encounter will be better for it!

I am excited to work for an organization that values this concept.  We recently had a sales meeting in which two very smart colleagues of mine ran a workshop on managing your energy.  There are great articles, references and resources out there for you to bring this concept into your work and life as practicing these principles will reap rewards in both areas.  For some tips to help you tap into your “R”, check out Harvard Business Review’s article Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time and the work that Tony Schwartz has done over the years around achieving peak performance on his website,

So I ask you…what’s your “R” and how can you get it going today?

2-6-2 Rule

May 13th, 2009 by Forum Corporation
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By André Alphonso, Managing Director, Forum India

During the course of my working life I have been influenced by many mentors. One of these mentors shared with me what he called his “2-6-2 Rule.”  It changed my thinking.  Let me share it with you:

This mentor of mine was a medic in Vietnam.  After a battle he and his team would fly in on helicopter gunships to evacuate the wounded.  These gunships could carry only a few people.  In this dramatic and chaotic environment my mentor had to quickly assess the situation and then place people into three categories:  a) those people who would live without his help; b) those who would die regardless of whether he helped them or not; and c) those who would survive only because of his help.  His focus was then on evacuating the people in the last category first.

My mentor drew a parallel between his experience in Vietnam and what he observed about the way that leaders behave in their work with their people.  His 2-6-2 Rule essentially relates to any group of people in which 20 percent are high performers, 60 percent are performers in the middle, and 20 percent are low/marginal performers.  The top 20 percent of high performers perform well regardless of their manager; the 20 percent of low/marginal performers drag their feet regardless of their manager; the third and biggest group, the 60 percent in the middle, only improve their performance because of the skills and behaviours of their manager.  However, my mentor observed that most managers get it wrong, by putting their focus and energy into the 20 percent at the top and the 20 percent at the bottom.  The people in the biggest group of 60 percent in the middle are largely left to their own devices.  My own observations and experience with leaders over many years bears testament to this.  The real focus should of course be on the largest group:  focus on those individuals who will only improve because of the intervention of their manager.

In the June 2003 Harvard Business Review, Thomas DeLong and Vineeta Vijayaraghavan’s groundbreaking article “Let’s Hear It for B Players” very clearly brought out the importance of focusing on this middle 60 percent.  In July 2008, DeLong and Vijayaraghavan again wrote about the importance of B players in a weak economy:  particularly in difficult times these “supporting actors” supply the stability, knowledge, and ballast that boosts organizational resilience and performance.

If you are a leader, think about the week that just passed and where your focus and energy were directed:  to A, B or C players?  What have you done to support those who will only survive because of your help?