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Fear and Loathing in Canary Wharf? Managing energy in financial teams

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Robert Bye

By Chris Barez-Brown, Upping Your Elvis

As individuals, human beings ebb and flow.  Some days we feel bulletproof, we’re physically and mentally strong and everything just feels easy. Other days, we are overly-sensitive, we argue with colleagues (and ourselves) and everything just feels much harder.

We’re the same person on both days, it’s just that our energy’s different.

Chris Barez-Brown

Chris Barez-Brown

Normally there is enough stability within a business to absorb these changes. But when the business itself goes through periods of change, there is a real danger of a perfect storm. Uncontrolled changes within the individual meets uncertainty in the workplace and has a potentially huge, negative impact.

This is compounded by the fact that most banks and financial services enterprises often have large departments built around specific functions.  Consequently, at any point in the course of the evolution of a company, there can be hundreds of like-minded people bringing anxiety, fear and concerns into the workplace. Unless tackled head on, this practically guarantees a negative outcome.

The risks to the sector

The banking and financial services sector is especially susceptible to this risk because constant change to processes, against a backdrop of tight compliance and aggressive sales targets, is the very basis of the evolution of the industry. These points provide not only the impetus for continual change but also the parameters of that change itself – the change programme must still fall within the accepted limits of the industry but have a clear commercial impact.

Businesses within the financial services sector must therefore figure out how to manage the diverse energies of their staff as the business works through ongoing waves of change.  The alternative is that that change kills the business.

Issues of perspective

It is an utter cliché, but no less true, that it is our perspective on change that determines everything. If a business addresses the energy of the staff around a change programme, then suddenly that change feels like an exciting opportunity, rather than something to be feared.

This need not demand huge shifts in employee behaviour. On a recent change programme that we ran for a large financial institution, we supported the face to face workshops and training with daily prompts for ‘micro-actions’.  These acted not only as a reminder of the behaviours the teams and leaders had been trained on, but also increased the adoption.

Critically, we also saw huge increases in people being open to trying new things – a clear sign that a team is embracing change, not running from it.

Another key tactic is to demonstrate what is desired: a team of ‘change champions’ were created to model new behaviours and show other staff members how to lead the business through a huge merger.

Following this programme the business reported a 50% increase in staff giving more feedback to each other, a 54% increase in staff giving public recognition to each other and 61% of team members trying new ideas to familiar solutions.

The core of successful change

At the core of these successes is the fact that staff and managers alike must take ownership of their own growth and development during times of change. This boils down to actively seeking out feedback.

Staff must get continual, fresh input on the things they are doing, every day, so that everyone learns, grows and embraces the change the business is working through.

In both banks and the financial services industry, staff are often shy about asking for positives (especially in London offices) but it is only by asking what worked and why, that a business can rapidly multiply those positive actions.The more specific this feedback, the better.

By seeking feedback and focusing on the positives of what has been achieved, a business can accelerate the positive association a staff member may have with the change programme being undertaken.

There is clear evidence that the more people in teams are aware of their personal energy and take active steps to manage it themselves, the better they can handle change.  It is vital to instill the confidence to experiment,and the wisdom to use data to refine those moments of evolution. These are the indicators that a positive culture towards change is present and that that change will be for the better.

 

Photo Credit – Robert Bye

 

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Bitcoin, ether hit fresh highs

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Bitcoin, ether hit fresh highs 1

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Bitcoin hit a fresh high in Asian trading on Saturday, extending a two-month rally that saw its market capitalisation cross $1 trillion a day earlier.

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency rose to an record $56,620, taking its weekly gain to 18%. It has surged more than 92% this year.

Bitcoin’s gains have been fuelled by evidence it is gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies, such as Tesla Inc, Mastercard Inc and BNY Mellon.

Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and daily volume, hit a record $2,040.62, for a weekly gain of about 12%.

Ether is the digital currency or token that facilitates transactions on the ethereum blockchain. In the crypto world, the terms ether and ethereum have become interchangeable.

Ether futures contracts launched on derivatives exchange CME earlier this month.

(Reporting by Vidya Ranganathan; Editing by William Mallard)

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World Bank pushing for standard vaccine contracts, more disclosure from makers

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World Bank pushing for standard vaccine contracts, more disclosure from makers 2

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank is working to standardize COVID-19 vaccine contracts that countries are signing with drug makers, and is pushing manufacturers to be more open about where doses are headed, as it races to get more vaccines to poor countries, the bank’s president said on Friday.

World Bank President David Malpass told Reuters he expected the bank’s board to have approved $1.6 billion in vaccine funding for 12 countries, including the Philippines, Bangladesh, Tunisia and Ethiopia, by the end of March, with 30 more to follow shortly thereafter.

The bank is working with local governments to identify and fill gaps in distribution capacity, after they purchase vaccines under a $12 billion World Bank program, and also to standardize the contracts they are signing with manufacturers, he said.

The bank’s International Finance Corp, its private financing arm, has $4 billion to invest in expanding existing production plants or building new ones, including in developed countries, but needs more data on where current production is headed, he said.

“We are eager to be investing in new capacity, but it’s hard to do because you don’t know how much of the existing capacity is already committed to the various off-takers,” Malpass said in an interview with Reuters. New or expanded plants could be used to produce other types of vaccinations in the future, he said.

The bank’s funds could be used to expand plants in advanced economies, if the production was earmarked for developing nations, he said.

Malpass welcomed Friday’s pledge by the Group of Seven rich countries to intensify cooperation on the pandemic, saying it could help jump-start deliveries of vaccines to poorer countries, which are lagging far behind rich countries in getting shots in arms.

Data compiled by Our World In Data, a scientific online publication, showed Israel was leading the world in COVID-19 vaccinations, with nearly 82 of 100 people vaccinated, while India and Bangladesh reported less than one person per 100, Many African countries have not started at all.

Malpass said he was heartened by news about new vaccines coming down the road, and about Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE seeking permission to store their vaccine at higher temperatures, which would ease another obstacle to deliveries in lower-income countries.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler)

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Google to evaluate executive performance on diversity, inclusion

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Google to evaluate executive performance on diversity, inclusion 3

By Paresh Dave

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google will evaluate the performance of its vice presidents and above on team diversity and inclusion starting this year, the company said on Friday in one of several responses to concerns about its treatment of a Black scientist.

Timnit Gebru, co-leader of Google’s ethical artificial intelligence research team, said in December that Google abruptly fired her after she criticized its diversity efforts and threatened to resign.

Alphabet and Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai ordered a review of the situation. While Google declined to share specific findings, the company announced on Friday it will engage human resources specialists during sensitive employee departures.

Pichai in June said that by 2025, Google aims to have 30% more of its leaders come from underrepresented groups, with a focus on Black, Latinx and Native American leaders in the United States and female technical leaders globally. About 96% of Google’s U.S. leaders at the time were white or Asian, and 73% globally were men.

As a result of the investigation, the company also expanded a commitment announced in June to devote more resources to retaining and promoting existing employees, including by expanding a team addressing disputes among workers and their managers.

The diversity component of executive performance reviews was not previously announced, and the company did not immediately share details about what would be measured and how pay would be affected.

Alphabet for years had rejected proposals from shareholders and employees to set diversity goals and tie executive pay to them.

Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who advocated for one such proposal at a 2018 shareholder meeting, said on Friday, “I am pleased that they met our demand from 2018, which was a bare minimum that should have been easy to do immediately.”

Evaluating managers on diversity goals is becoming more commonplace. McDonald’s Corp on Thursday tied executive bonuses to diversity.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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