The World Cup draws upon us again this summer, a sporting event that will no doubt delight football fans across the globe. With the squads confirmed and the kick off date set for this week fans globally are gearing up for the festivities, ready to tune into the first match. However, behind the sporting glory and the celebrations, there will be a firm spotlight on the resilience not just shown by the teams, but also the wider infrastructure in place to make it all happen.
As with any global sporting event, attention always turns to the host city and their readiness to host such an occasion – everything from stadium capacity and accessibility, to hospitality in the stadium is called into question. However, while the onus is currently on Russia to host a smooth and successful event, the World Cup should be seen as a catalyst for all businesses to improve the long-term resilience of both their workforce – their ‘teams’ – and their own infrastructure.
So, what lessons can businesses learn from the World Cup about readiness to be resilient?
- Dealing with emerging security threats
Security threats have always been a factor for major hospitality events, but even in recent years these threats have changed both in nature and severity. FIFA has already discussed upping the security for the World Cup, with growing cyber security attacks on infrastructure becoming increasingly prevalent.
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risks Report 2018 names cyberattacks and cyber warfare as a top cause of disruption in the next five years, coming only after natural disasters and extreme weather events. In this same vein as World Cup organisers, businesses cannot just look at what has gone on before but need to constantly keep one step ahead of new threats. The nature of attacks is constantly evolving, with Internet of Things devices and critical supply chains becoming frequent targets – and no industry will be immune.
As more applications migrate to the cloud, it’s crucial that security moves further up the agenda for business leaders. Cyber threats continue to evolve, and defences will need to be a central component of any digital and business strategy to ensure you aren’t the one caught out.
- Holding your audience captive
Imagine the uproar if the television networks cut out or froze at the exact moment a goal was scored, or a red card issued? Broadcasters will have put in vast amounts of effort to ensure their systems can scale up to cope with huge viewing figures – the 2014 final pulled in one billion viewers in total – with this year likely to top that figure.
Whether you are a broadcaster, an online retailer or a manufacturer, these days any kind of downtime is frowned upon by customers and shareholders, and can result in a substantial knock to revenue. In the era of ‘all-time’ business availability, organisations must ensure that their infrastructure has the flexibility and scalability to accommodate additional traffic. The conversation has very quickly evolved from “how do I get my systems back up and running quickly?” to “how do I stop them ever going down in the first place?” Having the right infrastructure to cope with customer demand should be top of the agenda for any business that wants to thrive.
- Adopting a ‘business as usual’ mindset
With an estimated 1.5 million tourists expected to visit Russia during the course of the games, an incredible amount of pressure will fall not only upon game organisers, but businesses in the surrounding area: transport disruption, infrastructure strains and street closures are just some of the considerations that come into play for a major sporting event such as the World Cup.
While local businesses may benefit greatly from a potential increase in business, they should ask themselves whether they have put the appropriate steps in place to ensure they can operate as normal under this increased stress. Herein is a lesson to be learned for businesses across the globe: there are external and internal factors at play which are beyond your control, and it’s your job to ensure your organisation is fully prepared to guard against what lies ahead. Organisations must ensure that they have taken the adequate steps to anticipate and prepare for disruption. Be that conducting a business impact analysis and risk assessment, refreshing incident management and business continuity arrangements, or implementing test solutions, to ensure they’re well positioned to respond should the need arise.
- Building a team that can attack as well as defend
To this point we have looked at the defensive elements of resilience – reducing the impact and likelihood of something negative happening when faced with cyber-attacks, downtime and other potential disruptions. However, you can also manage risk by stacking the odds in favour of a positive outcome. The aim of every team in the world cup is to win games by scoring more goals than their opponents. They do this by fielding defensive players to prevent their opponents scoring goals against them and forwards to score goals. The same is true of business. The aim is to have more market share than your competitors. If you only defend then you may retain your market share – but if you don’t attack then you will never win more. A resilient business has defenders and forwards who work together and a leadership who can inspire the grit and determination to win.
While the organisers of a major event like the World Cup will be will be taking a ‘risk-adverse’ stance to ensure the event runs smoothly, local businesses and the football players themselves will aiming for resilience. They will be sufficiently robust to be able to defend their own goal but agile enough to take the opportunity of scoring when it arises.
Climbing the league table
While the World Cup kick-off may be a leisurely pastime for our summer evenings, there is a lesson that organisations can take away from the smooth execution of a large-scale sporting event. From a resilience perspective, the competition teaches us about how we can make improvements to our own organisations.
Like a football team, a resilient organisation needs three things to succeed: a well-trained, well-equipped and fit ‘squad’ who will work well as a team, a supportive network and on-the-ground team, and most importantly, they need to be led by an inspiring coach with a clear direction. Only with this in place will you be the organisation who scores the winning goal.
Should you reward high performance and if so how?
By Matthew Emerson, Founder and Managing Director, Blackmore Four
In our last article – “what do high-performing teams mean?” we identified four enabling conditions – a compelling direction, high accountability, clear expectations and trusting relationships to be the basic platform for high performing teams. But work teams do not operate in an organisational vacuum. Organisational performance is the key interest for managers and executives; however, organizations only perform efficiently if individuals feel satisfied and committed as well as cooperate with colleagues.
Features of the organisational context, such as the reward system, specific incentives and career development opportunities as well as the coaching and feedback behaviours of team leaders, can have.
a seismic impact on the outcome of the team. In today’s team-centric workplace, how do you recognise employees’ contributions to team success in the most effective way?
Individual vs. team reward
The problem is that group tasks are usually a mix of group and individual interests, a mixture of cooperative and competitive incentives. Therefore, is team recognition better? Or is it best to reward individual contributors?
When you reward individuals for their hard work and for achieving results, you incentivise them to keep up the good work. This recognition can, in turn, influence others to improve their performance. However, rewarding individuals may create a more competitive environment, potentially undermining any efforts to establish or maintain a collaborative culture within the organisation.
Through a meta-analysis of 30 studies involving more than 7,000 teams, Garbers and Konradt (2014) found that team-based rewards yield moderate positive effects on team performance. Recognising an entire team encourages greater camaraderie and when people are motivated to work harder for the good of the team, it often results in higher performance. Moreover, it demonstrates to the team that others in their organisation (specifically, those who designed the reward system and administer it) care enough about a team’s performance that they are willing to expend organisational resources to recognise what it accomplishes. Effective team rewards should elicit and reinforce collaboration among members as they work together to achieve compelling team purposes. Recognition for good team performance encourages members to think of “us” rather than “me” and goes a long way in helping to sustain collective motivation.
Both individual and team-based recognition have their pros and cons. So, what would be a compromise solution? A third option is offering a hybrid recognition program.
By simultaneously rewarding group and individual achievement, you can motivate everyone to work hard toward achieving the team’s goals. At the same time, you also recognise individual team members who go the extra mile. These are the people who make outstanding contributions to the team’s overall performance. The work they do is worthy of special recognition and should be rewarded appropriately. When a team receives something that members collectively value, it becomes more likely that members will do again whatever it is that they did before.
The consequences of excellent team performance, therefore, must be something that team members themselves view as favourable. Even if leaders think that putting a team’s name on the company intranet is kudos for high performance, that listing will have no effect if team members view it as silly, embarrassing or meaningless.
One kind of recognition that almost everyone cares about is money. At least in Western societies, people have learned well to “follow the money” if they want to understand what is going on or what is most valued by those in charge. Although compliments and nonmonetary rewards can go a long way in reinforcing team excellence, they cannot go all the way. At some point, people want to see some cash—or at least feel they have a piece of the financial action. What factors do you need to consider when designing your rewards strategy?
Equitable v’s equal
The evidence suggests that equitably distributed rewards are more effective than equally distributed rewards in
affecting team performance. So, for example, the practice of distributing the same bonus to all team members at the end of the financial year, while it might be easier to do, may yield weaker effects on future performance. Because fairness violations are processed more emotionally than rationally, even nominal rewards for team performance have implications for fairness perception and must be managed.
Communicate how you will distribute rewards: if you want to value individual contributions, you will need to define and say what the indicators of performance are (e.g., the amount of responsibility, hours worked, individual outcomes). In other words, use equitable pay and be meritocratic. Giving employees “voice” is an important first step of rewards fairness. Objectives and performance should be measured among individuals, so that you can show what each team member has done and what they each receive as a reward.
Consistency is key
Finally, we encourage team leaders to make sure they use fair decision-making criteria when they are deciding on who should receive recognition. Team members need to trust that you are recognising team members who make valuable contributions. Distributing formal recognition based on arbitrary factors, or simply rewarding “teacher’s pets,” may compromise the positive (and exacerbate the negative) changes found in our research. Many employees report feeling undervalued at the end of a project. These less favoured members are usually separated from the favourable team members due to hierarchy or departmental lines.
Team-based rewards have both potential benefits and drawbacks for an organization, especially in the context of team trust. While they can be successful in highly interdependent team environments when reward measurements are fair and clear, they can also result in motivational loss, competitive behaviour and feelings of discomfort by team members who are reluctant to determine each other’s pay when such preconditions are not in place. It is important for managers to take these dynamics into account when designing a team-based rewards program and remember that there is not a one size fits all approach.
Matthew Emerson is the Founder and Managing Director of Blackmore Four, an Essex based management consultancy working with leaders of ambitious businesses to achieve outstanding performance through periods of growth or significant change.
Starting his career at Ford Motor Company, Matthew has developed his expertise in Organisational Effectiveness in key senior HR, Organisational Development and Talent roles, predominantly in Financial Services (Credit Suisse, Barclays and DBS) and most recently as the Group Head of Talent and Performance at UBS AG.
Having worked in and across Asia for six years as well as having ‘global’ responsibility in a number of his roles, Matthew has an appreciation of international and multi-cultural working environments. He also has a multi-sector perspective, having worked with organisations in Manufacturing, Healthcare, Education and Technology.
Asian shares near record highs as U.S. stimulus plans offset virus woes
By Swati Pandey
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares climbed to near all-time highs on Monday as concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and delays in vaccine supplies were eclipsed by optimism of a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plan to help revive the U.S. economy.
Sentiment in the region was also boosted by a report that China had surpassed the United States to be the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020 with $163 billion in inflows.
Futures markets also pointed to firmer starts elsewhere. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.37%, futures for eurostoxx 50 as well as London’s FTSE were up 0.3% each while those for Germany’s DAX added 0.4%.
“The FDI story has definitely lifted China and its near neighbours today, blowing an economic recovery tailwind into geographically adjacent markets,” said OANDA’s Singapore-based market analyst Jeffery Halley.
“Looking ahead, equities will find more meaningful reactions from the progress or not of the Biden stimulus package, and the level of dovishness displayed by the Federal Reserve at their FOMC meeting this week.”
Global equity markets have scaled record highs in recent days on bets COVID-19 vaccines will start to reduce the infection rates worldwide and on a stronger U.S. economic recovery under President Joe Biden.
Still, investors are also wary about towering valuations amid questions over the efficiency of the vaccines in curbing the pandemic and as U.S.lawmakers continue to debate a coronavirus aid package.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose to 726.46, within kissing distance of last week’s record high of 727.31.
The benchmark is up nearly 9% so far in January, on track for its fourth straight monthly rise.
Japan’s Nikkei rebounded from falls in early trading to be up 0.7%.
Australian shares added 0.4% after the country’s drug regulator approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with a phased rollout likely late next month.
Chinese shares rose, with the blue-chip CSI300 index up 1.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index leapt nearly 2% led by technology stocks.
All eyes are on Washington DC as U.S. lawmakers agreed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority even as they lock horns over the size of the U.S. pandemic relief package.
Financial markets have been eyeing a massive package though disagreements have meant months of indecision in a country suffering more than 175,000 COVID-19 cases a day with millions out of work.
Global COVID-19 cases are inching towards 100 million with more than 2 million dead.
Hong Kong locked down an area of the Kowloon peninsula on Saturday, the first such measure the city has taken since the pandemic began.
Reports the new UK COVID variant was not only highly infectious but perhaps more deadly than the original strain also added to worries.
In the European Union, political leaders expressed widespread dismay over a hold-up by AstraZeneca and Pfizer Inc in delivering promised doses, with Italy’s prime minister lashing out at the vaccine suppliers, saying delays amounted to a serious breach of contractual obligations.
On Friday, the Dow fell 0.57%, the S&P 500 lost 0.30% and the Nasdaq added 0.09%. The three main U.S. indexes closed higher for the week, with the Nasdaq up over 4%.
Jefferies analysts said U.S. stock markets looked overvalued though they still remained bullish.
“For the stock market to have a real nasty unwind, rather than just a bull market correction, there needs to be a catalyst,” analyst Christopher Wood said.
“That means either an economic downturn or a material tightening in Fed policy,” Wood said, adding neither was likely to occur in a hurry.
In currencies, major pairs were trapped in a tight range as markets awaited the Fed’s Wednesday meeting.
The dollar index eased to 90.073, with the euro at $1.2181, while sterling was last a tad firmer at $1.3721.
The Japanese yen was a shade weaker at 103.69 per dollar.
In commodities, Brent gave up early losses to be last flat at $55.41 a barrel and U.S. crude rose 3 cents to $52.30.
Gold was flat at $1,852.9 an ounce.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jacqueline Wong)
Dollar pauses its decline on fresh virus worries
By Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar stabilised on Monday after a recent decline as fresh worries about the coronavirus and the global economy prompted investors to hang on to the safe-haven currency.
But analysts said the dollar could resume its fall if the U.S. Federal Reserve reaffirms its commitment to a highly accommodative monetary policy at its rate meeting later this week — as widely expected.
“I don’t think the Fed has any incentives to curtail its stimulus at this point, even though some market players may try to read between the lines for any signs of tapering in stimulus,” said Kazushige Kaida, head of FX sales at State Street Bank’s Tokyo Branch.
“I think the dollar is staying in a downtrend even though it is marking time for now,” he said.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is expected to signal he has no plan to wind back the Fed’s massive stimulus any time soon when the central bank concludes its policy review on Wednesday.
The dollar index stood at 90.172, flat on the day. It bounced back on Friday after hitting 90.043 on Thursday, last week’s lowest level.
Economic activity in the euro zone shrank markedly in January as stringent lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic hit the bloc’s dominant service industry hard while UK data showed British retailers struggled to recover in December.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said on Friday there was evidence a new variant of COVID-19 discovered late last year could be associated with higher mortality, while problems in some vaccine roll-outs also weighed on sentiment.
Downbeat coronavirus news overshadowed some upbeat U.S. data, including a surge in manufacturing and an unexpected jump in existing home sales.
Bets against the dollar have become overcrowded, analysts also said, with U.S. data on Friday showing net dollar short positions swelling to the largest since May 2011.
The euro was little changed at $1.2174 , taking a pause after a 0.8% gain last week.
The common currency is capped in part by signs of political instability in Rome, which has also driven Italian bond yields higher. The yield spread between Italian and German bonds hit its highest since November on Friday.
Italy’s main ruling parties on Friday flagged snap elections as the only way out of its political impasse, if Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte fails to drum up a parliamentary majority after scraping through a confidence vote.
The situation in Italy demonstrates the widespread risks of political instability from popular discontent as communities grow weary of the pandemic, some analysts said.
“The stock markets’ rally during this pandemic is completely dependent on fiscal expansion and debt monetisation by central banks,” said Makoto Noji, chief currency strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities. “Political instability could delay fiscal measures. The year 2021 will not be the same as 2020.”
In Washington, the honeymoon after Joe Biden’s inauguration as President last week means investors are hopeful that at least a part of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan will come through fairly soon.
The second impeachment trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump expected early next month could complicate his efforts.
Elsewhere, the British pound held firm at $1.3684, not far off a 2-1/2-year high of $1.3745 touched on Thursday thanks in part to Britain’s lead in COVID-19 vaccinations.
Against the yen, the dollar was flat at 103.76 yen.
(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Sam Holmes and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
Should you reward high performance and if so how?
By Matthew Emerson, Founder and Managing Director, Blackmore Four In our last article – “what do high-performing teams mean?” we...
Britain’s Boohoo buys Debenhams brand for 55 million sterling
LONDON (Reuters) – British online fashion retailer Boohoo said on Monday it had purchased the brand of collapsed department store...
Asian shares near record highs as U.S. stimulus plans offset virus woes
By Swati Pandey SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares climbed to near all-time highs on Monday as concerns over rising COVID-19...
Philips fourth-quarter core profit up 7% on continued strong COVID-19 demand
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch health technology company Philips on Monday reported a 7% increase in fourth-quarter core earnings as the...
Global life insurers impose restrictions, worried about long-term pandemic risks
By Suzanne Barlyn, Carolyn Cohn and Noor Zainab Hussain (Reuters) – Global life insurers are taking steps to curb payouts...
Dollar pauses its decline on fresh virus worries
By Hideyuki Sano TOKYO (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar stabilised on Monday after a recent decline as fresh worries about...
European lenders exit Amazon oil trade after scrutiny by campaigners
By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi, Matthew Green and Simon Jessop ZURICH/LONDON (Reuters) – Credit Suisse, Dutch lender ING and France’s BNP...
Asian shares rise as U.S. stimulus plans offset virus woes
By Swati Pandey SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares rose on Monday as concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and delays in...
Oil prices edge lower as COVID-19 lockdown concerns overshadow demand prospects
By Florence Tan SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices slipped for a second straight session on Monday as renewed COVID-19 lockdowns...
BP’s oil exploration team swept aside in climate revolution
By Ron Bousso LONDON (Reuters) – Nothing escapes the winds of change now sweeping through BP, not even the exploration...