A Scheduled Break on the Blog

Sometimes it’s best to press the pause button.

As 2016 nears to an end, our Connecting Perspectives team announces a break from blogging. However, just because we will be stepping back from publishing for a little while here does not mean we are ceasing our business activities. In fact, the opposite is occurring.

Why We Are Taking a Break Now

We are pleased to be so busy with our current clients. For our team, it makes more sense to use our time to develop new concepts and products to further help our existing client base. Once we develop these innovative solutions, we look forward to introducing them here.

Taking Stock of Accomplishments

Our first blog post dates back to November 24, 2009. Since then, we have published continuously. Our writing has consistently focused on providing strategies and tips for businesses, with a focus on improving collaboration, return on investment, and sustainable change.

Earlier this year, for example, we offered insights into how to create a genuinely happy office, which is necessary for effective collaboration and organisational development. We cautioned that what might appear to be a content office to a manager may be a false front.

In addition to the insights that readers have told us that we have provided them through the blog posts, we have also asked questions to encourage executives to explore new ways of thinking about their businesses.

In July of 2015, we did exactly that in a post titled How to Collaborate Across Cultures? We asked leaders of multi-cultural organisations questions that to help them better understand how their teams members communicate with each other. One such question was, “What do you do to understand how they perceive time, hierarchy or trust?”

Exploring the Present & Hopeful for the Future

We plan to come back to the blog soon to continue to share ideas pertaining to effective collaboration within organisations, which is a necessary component of growing a business and maximising innovative prospects. We look forward to furthering conversations in these areas when we return.

In the meantime, let’s press the power button on life. Are you ready to make the most of your business plans at the present time too?


Trust Bust: Avoid This Business Mistake as End of Year Approaches

You are already stressed, so why do you want to add to it?

The end of the year for many business owners and their teams is a hectic time, with many loose ends to tie up and fresh tasks to set for the upcoming year. The tension is high and making one particular objective right now would only intensify the situation. So, what is the mistake that we are talking about?

Trust-Building at the Year’s End

The common mistake being alluded to is building trustful relationships within your organisation. The end of the year is not the time to invest vast amounts of time and energy into strengthening trust between team members or between your team and external contacts, even if it is an issue you want to fix. It’s not that it shouldn’t be addressed but that it shouldn’t be addressed at the present moment.

But, why is it a grave error to start this task in the late part of the year?

A Matter of Timing

Trust-building activities are a low-priority item in December, to put it simply. There are projects that are integral at the moment, and they deserve your attention instead given that the year is coming to a close.

These pressing items include sales quotas to achieve and budgets to plan for the upcoming year. The tasks must be complete by January and, so, they take precedence over strategies to build trust.

Besides, if trust is weak within the organisation at this point, waiting a few more months before strategising how to achieve effective collaboration will likely not make a difference in the long run.

And, if you need another reason why trust-strengthening exercises are not appropriate for the end of the year, here you go:

Building Trust Takes Time

Developing trustful relationships within an organisation takes time. It is not something that you can typically start and end all within the end of the year, at least not if you want to be successful.

Trust is a “low cooking item,” meaning it takes time to build properly. Indeed, change is not to be forced as doing so can impair rather than strengthen organisational cooperation.

Instead of rushing the process, start fresh in the new year strengthening relations between your team. In the meantime, focus on the end-of-year items, such as reaching quotas; hold off on the trust issue for a better time, such as January or February.

Not Adding to the Stress

Now that you know to avoid this common end-of-the-year mistake, we hope your stress levels decline at least a little bit. As for relaxing, the best time to do so is when you don’t have time for it.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse:



The Lewis Triangle for Better Workplace Cross-Cultural Collaborations

It’s time to get down to Earth and apply the Lewis Triangle to the workplace to achieve more effective collaborations. 

There is one triangle designed to improve collaborations between people of different cultures. Just ask Richard Lewis, the British linguist who created the Lewis Triangle, a model on cross-cultural communication. Today we demonstrate the high versatility of this framework by applying it to the workplace environment.


A Simple Model That Makes Sense

The Lewis Triangle is a straightforward, fast way to understand other cultures in a workplace situation without requiring a lot of training. The Lewis Triangle posits that the world is full of diverse cultures but that they are more homogenous than one might expect.

In fact, there are only three categories, as per the cross-cultural triangle; these classifications are the triangle’s “points”. They are Multi-active, Linear-active, and Reactive. Other models on cross-cultural study, in comparison, have several more dimensions, which makes them harder to both teach and comprehend.


Applying the Lewis Triangle Sense

As different cultures have different values and behaviours, companies with a multi-cultural workforce literally cannot afford to ignore the disconnect within a team that can come from its inability to interact efficiently to complete projects. The devastating results can include a reduction in company efficiency and decline in profits.

At Connecting Perspectives, we have suggested our clients facing culture-related communication issues use the Lewis Triangle to understand different approaches to work. The goal is to improve relationships and reduce misunderstandings between team members. We have applied the basics of the Lewis Triangle to teams that are multi-cultural, as well as between people who share the same cultural background, such as Arabic culture.

We utilize the triangle framework in many exercises and simulations. The use of simulations provides a good learning experience for people as they can freely “act” without letting worries about real-life consequences restricting their behaviours.


Building Trustful Collaboration

Of course, the Lewis Triangle approach we use for improving communication within companies may be only one aspect of building trustful collaboration between team members. The exact strategy to use depends on the dynamics of your company, as every organisation is unique.

Other points we address with our clients as ways to strengthen inter-office collaborations include the use of dynamic social networks, such as desk rotation, and how to effectively using the phone (rather than email).

As for the sum of the parts of the triangle, we think it is the way we communicate that is more useful when it comes right down to it, and this “triangular” way of thinking is one that we are happy to show you in a simple training session. Let’s get our thinking out of space and back down to earth. Let’s start simplifying connections between people, starting today.


This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse:

Close Friendships at Work: Why It’s About More than Just Being Social

friendships at work

Eid has been full of activities with family and also friends. Now is time to go back to our regular work routine. What about having those friendships at work?

A growing body of research supports the benefits of a best friend on the job, and it’s not just about growing a person’s social network. It’s about being more than just social.

Summarizing the Research on Friends at Work

Several studies support the importance of having close friends on the job. Data collected by The Gallup Organisation points to the advantages of establishing an encouraging relationship in the workplace. The multiyear research, cited in the Gallup Business Journal, suggests that working alongside a best friend can increase the engagement levels of these employees, and they are more likely to stay with the company.

The reason for the loyalty that these employees generally feel toward the company stems from the quality relationships they form there. The closeness of the relationship is an important distinction to make here. The co-workers are not casual communicators but instead close friends. The relationship is deep, rather than surface level.


Implications for Your Organisation

What does the recent Gallup research mean for your organisation? The incentive is there for you to foster a company environment that encourages close friendships. Your company is then more likely to enjoy higher employee retention rates as the employees want to maintain their deep friendships. They have a personal investment in the company.

As well, trust is high in these workers, as a result of the meaningful friendships they have formed, and we know that trust is a key component of retention. When your employees have mutual trust, then they are more likely to have confidence in them when times get tough on the job. Feeling less alone and, instead, part of a supportive network is a reason for wanting to stay in at a particular company.


Linking Employee Health and Friendships

The research also reveals that having a best friend at work has health benefits. Those people with close friendships within an organization are more likely to practice healthy stress management. This point is important to any business manager because employees who are less stressed are better able to focus on the tasks at hand on the job.

In the previously mentioned analysis, Gallop also found that best friends had better stress management than did workers who did not have these close relationships, even when the stress levels were the same between them.

As a side note, an employee’s ability to manage stress well, at least partially because of best friends at work, also helps drive down the rate at which your employees take time off work as sick days. In turn, your organisational productivity rate can increase as there are more hours of workers on the job. Plus, these workers are highly efficient because of their focused efforts.


In the Arab Culture

For companies with Arab employees, the importance of having a best friend at work may be even more important than in other parts of the world. Why is this? A key reason is that Arab culture puts a high value on family-like relationships.

In the Middle East, the family is a very important part of life, and this concept includes work life. My recent read of Dr. Tommy Weir’s clever book 10 Tips for Leading in the Middle East reminded me of the truth of this characteristic of much of the Arab world.

With a high importance put on work relationships, as being as valuable as bonds with blood relatives, leaders of companies that are part of the Arab culture would be wise to encourage familial-type relations between workers to gain allegiance from the toward the company. They are then less likely to leave the company.


When Implementing Change Programs

When a company utilises change programs, trust is important to have within the organisation. While changes within a company are occurring, managers often try to maintain employee morale, as well as to assist them in understanding and accepting alterations in the system. This was exactly what managers did at UK’s National Health Service (NHS) when they led the transformations of their services with the organisations.

Given the importance of trust in the process of change, it becomes evident that managers should take steps to strengthen trust among employees to keep them on board the company. Here is yet another reason to support having a best friend at work. As we have already established, close friendships build trust. So, the trusting friends can work together in support of the company and be willing to stick with it through the system changes. The importance of having a support system is clear.


Human Friendships & Technology

If you are wondering whether human friendships are replaceable with technology, it is not likely to happen. And if it did, it would not be for the benefit of an organisation.

While many companies are digitalizing their everyday activities, computers cannot take the place of human friendships that collaborate to better the organisations as a whole. A human-centred focus on collaboration can be adaptable and comprehensive in ways that technology simply cannot do.

Also, think of technology as a tool used by humans rather than as a means to the end on its own. Skype is an example. Skype saves companies money and time on a daily basis, enabling co-workers to have virtual meetings without having to travel to meet in the same physical room to have these conferences. But, if effective human-to-human collaboration does not occur, there is no amount of technology that can fix this problem.

When employees form close friendships, they can work more effectively as teams, with the aid of technology, to meet project deadlines and overarching organisational objectives. The teams of friends can come up with creative solutions and use technologies to put those plans into motion effectively to better the overall company.


The Value of Best Friends at Work

As is evidenced above, the benefits of having a best friend at work cannot be overstated. From advancing technologies to strengthening the success of change programs, improving employee health, and positively impacting productivity levels, there is so much to be gained when managers encourage close friendships amongst employees.

A lasting note concerns the element of creativity. A friendly work environment is likely to be one that is more creative than an aloof one. The reason being is primarily because when a person feels comfortable, then he or she is more likely to be genuine and true to oneself. At this point, he or she can think outside of the box more easily.

If you have previously discouraged close friendships in the workplace, now you know that there is an immense benefit to best friends. Use the above tips to create a friendly space for employees, particularly if you are in a family-oriented culture like the Middle East. At Connecting Perspectives, we offer a range of strategies to help foster better communication within an organisation.

As you see the friendships grow stronger at work, watch many of the benefits explained here arise. Best friends provide a great reason for both managers and employees to smile.


Case Study: How to Break Down Silos Using Zero Budget

Breaking down silos, zero budget (case study)

Breaking down silos, zero budget (case study)

ANIDA, the real estate arm of the large Spanish bank BBVA, employs about 300 people across many departments. These departments are very specific to the real estate business and far from the banking side.


As ANIDA is not core to the banking business, the corporate Communication and Brand (C&B) department does not cover it. Instead, an autonomous C&B department is created to work specifically for ANIDA, with no responsibilities for any of the banking departments.

The new Director of this new department finds that they are left out of most internal communications. Furthermore, most departments are completely “siloed”; in other words, they don’t know (nor cared about) the other departments’projects.

All in all, internal communication is nowhere to be found.


The Director of ANIDA’s C&B (Ms Paz LANDALUCE) attends a public ExperienTalk™ (or experiential keynote speech) hosted by Atrevia in Madrid on the topic “Connect Teams by Connecting Perspectives.”

One of the practical strategies in the session concerns holding regular informal meetings, which can providehigh value to participants. Such a strategy appeals to the Director and it is the action that she commits to do after the ExperienTalk™ (Note: As you might already know, most ExperienTalks™ include regular reminders about an action that each participant sets for himself or herself).

She takes home the energy and enthusiasm accrued at the ExperienTalk™ and proceeds to launch two sets of meetings:

1. Fortnightly meetings with the Marketing department to update one other on current and upcoming projects.

2. A monthly “Business Forum” with a representative of each and every department. Each participant provides updates and metrics on their projects at this meeting.

Both meetings are zero-cost events. Thus, they do not affect the budget, only the participants’ schedules.


While it takes time to bring the meetings to a critical mass of participants, the C&B Director’s persistence does achieve it. With even more persistence, she gets them not just to listen but also to talk, and not just to her but among the different departments.

Forward ahead three months and they start new collaborative projects. Even some teams request some collaboration in specific areas to other teams.

Such collaboration had not been seen before. It was sparked by zero-budget activities and plenty of enthusiasm.

Download the Case Study

Sales, Marketing, Wherefore Art Thou Collaboration? 

Sales, Marketing, Wherefore Art Thou Collaboration?Imagine how productive Verona would have been if the Montagues and Capulets had worked together?

Like in Shakespeare’s tragic tale ‘Romeo and Juliet’, modern businesses suffer from two feuding families; Sales and Marketing. Much like the Montagues and Capulets, senior managers often describe the working relationship between sales and marketing as “unsatisfactory”. The two functions, they say, “under-communicate, under-perform, and over-complain”, according to a Harvard Business Review study.

In reaction to disappointing results, marketing accuses sales for poor execution. In turn, sales complain about prices set by marketing and suggest more of the marketing budget should go toward hiring salespeople or higher commissions. Sales believe that marketers are out of touch with customers, marketing see sales as short-sighted. Each group undervalues the other’s contributions, leading to failures in both.

Years ago, product design and manufacturing realised that working together would create value for the company and for customers, so why not sales and marketing?

Through our work as collaboration specialists for Connecting Perspectives we use simple strategies to enable better organisational collaboration. Using our leadership and management courses we enable trustful collaboration by bridge building, beyond team building, allowing even feuding departments to work better together for the benefit of the company as a whole.

Consider physically seating the two teams close to each other in order to create trust and increase the exchange of information. Regular meetings between those departments and even temporary role exchanges can also help each team better understand the challenges, and value the contributions, of the other.

It’s too late for Romeo and Juliet, but it’s not too late for your business to bring its warring factions together.


This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse:


Office-Politics 700

Collaboration isn’t a result, it’s a process

“Human populations are both highly cooperative and highly organised. Human interactions are not random but rather are structured in social networks. Importantly, ties in these networks often are dynamic, changing in response to the behaviour of one’s social partners”, begins ‘Dynamic social networks promote cooperation in experiments with humans’, a paper by Rand, Arbesman, Christakis.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences paper suggests that people can respond to the co-operation and defection of those around them by making or breaking network links. This concept is also true within a workspace environment where co-operation is key to productivity and ultimately profitability.

The results of the report suggest that “cooperation decays over time when social networks are shuffled randomly”, but also “when networks are dynamic but are updated only infrequently, cooperation again fails”. So in order to develop sustainable and trustful collaboration in the workplace we must not compel relationships to be fixed but neither force them to continuously change.

When subjects can update their network connections frequently, co-operation is maintained at a high level through network “rewiring”. The study suggests “subjects preferentially break links with defectors and form new links with co-operators, creating an incentive to cooperate and leading to substantial changes in network structure”.

Through my work as a collaboration specialist for Connecting Perspectives, I have found several methods to develop sustainable organisational collaboration. Tools such as desk rotation, job shadowing, or cross-department projects, allow management to ensure their workplace social networks are dynamic and change frequently enough to maximise co-operation.

The key is finding the ideal balance between network stability and change in the workplace. Through our leadership and management courses we facilitate organisational development by enabling businesses to foster collaboration in the long-term.

Collaboration isn’t a result, it’s a process.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse:


Reach for the Phone, Not Email (Typically)

Email is the go-to tool for communication for many business owners and employees – but it’s not necessarily the best one.

While the phone is convenient, it is typically the better option when conversing with distant colleagues. You might consider scaling back on email for the phone given what follows below.

Superiority of the Phone

Even if there is no single rule always to use the phone, calling a colleague is advantageous over email because hearing the voice helps to build trustful collaboration. This point is particularly true if you have not spoken to the individual for more than two weeks. Also, a phone call is a faster means of communication than email ping-pong back and forth two or three times.

Email-Specific Situations

There are, of course, times when emailing a teammate makes more sense than a phone call. If you are sending straightforward information that does not require a reply, email is the better option of the two. An email also is a great way to follow-up on a call. Use email to summarise the main points you spoke about with the individual.

Proven Success

Recently, our team at ConnectingPerspectives ran an ExperienTalk (experiential keynote) at the annual meeting of a company with 25 remote locations. In attendance were both the site managers and the executive team from headquarters.

Through the day’s discussion, experiences, and activities, the attendees realised they should use the phone more and the benefits of hearing one another’s voices. It was a great practical outcome for them offsite, and they are already reaping the rewards of the session.

Will you reach for the phone the next time you have something to say?

To learn more about improving business communications by phone, particularly during meetings, sign up for our upcoming Active Webinar for Executives on Effective Phone Team Meetings. We offer it at times suitable for the UAE and others suitable to Europe. Get solutions to your unique organisational collaboration challenges with ConnectingPerspectives today.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse:

Workplace Silos

Happy Workplaces May Hide Silos

Are you sure your workplace is truly happy?

A seemingly happy office is not necessarily a truly happy office. We cannot always see the true nature of social relationships in a workplace environment, yet they play a huge role in the productivity of our businesses.

I recently had meeting with 15 people from different departments of one client’s business. The office itself was beautifully designed; open plan, lots of natural light, fruit baskets dotted all over the place, even a running track on the perimeter. On the surface there was a great atmosphere.

During the meeting staff sat “clustered” by department, although they were not asked to do so, and body language hinted toward the existence of silos. Through off-the-record discussions after the meeting I heard complaints of silos from several individuals. A happy office on the surface actually hid a complex social issue that was no doubt holding the company back.

In order to develop effective collaboration in a workplace you need real rooted happiness. Such happiness can only be achieved with better internal collaboration and bridge building, beyond team building, which can break down silos and foster organisational collaboration.

Through our leadership and management courses we enable trustful collaboration, helping our clients create sustainable change in their businesses. We identify barriers to organisational development and apply simple strategies to create happier, more collaborative and more productive workplaces.

Make sure your workplace is truly happy.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse:

_internal knowledge transfer image_cropped

Better Internal Collaboration With These Simple Strategies

Poor collaboration within a team leads to worse results. There are simple techniques to improve collaboration and ensure better internal knowledge transfer, leading to better results.

Collaborative ability or “tie strength” refers to the intensity of the interactions between two or more network members, and is “a combination of the amount of time, the emotional intensity, the intimacy and the reciprocal services which characterize the tie” (Granovetter, 1973: 126).

One occurrence we have observed is commonly known as the “collaboration charade,” where employees simply pretend to get along in the presence of the organisational or team leader. In these situations employees do not want to be perceived as the obstacle to productivity, but instead of trying to authentically improve relationships, they take the easy route of acting as a collaborator in the presence of authority.

One of our corporate clients, who had 45 employees divided over two floors, asked us to improve their internal knowledge transfer for better productivity and we utilized a number of proven team-bridging strategies. One exercise, which proved particularly successful, was to move one or two employees from one floor to the other each week. Carrying out their normal work activities in the presence of others allowed social interactions to take place and vastly improved the productivity of project teams combining staff from each floor.

“Tie strength not only facilitates direct knowledge transfer through personal interaction it also facilitates indirect transfer by promoting trust between the parties” (Hansen,1999; McFadyen, Semadeni, & Cannella, 2009).

Improving organisational collaboration within your business, through the strategies employed in our leadership and management courses, will lead to better results and higher levels of productivity.