Is Being Available 24/7 Really a Sign of Strength?
Luke Todd is one of the Co-Founders of MadeYou Ltd. He has more than 25 years of experience in customer experience management and HR consultancy, including senior roles in the financial and digital sectors. Together with his business partner Kelly, Luke relocated from the UK to Malta in 2014.
MadeYou has its roots in Luke Todd and Co which offered consultancy services to organisations in Malta and the UK. Major growth followed when the company worked with eBay Classifieds looking at maximising efficiencies, profiling NPS analytics, presenting fraud prevention and cost reduction strategies to the board whilst providing customer-led consultancy services.
Soon after that, they established a Training and Coaching division of the company, playing to their strengths as certified business coaches and trainers. The team’s background and approach to developing talent brought about significant operational change to the organisation.
Luke’s focus is on strategic development for a variety of clients – in talent development, 360 feedback and exec-level coaching. Using his operational leadership experience, he brings about behavioural change which drives careers and business potential. We caught up with Luke to hear about what finance leaders struggle with the most, how he can help them and his top tips on achieving success.
What do you think are the most important benefits of business coaching?
Giving an external perspective and not being involved in the day-to-day strategic or operational delivery means there is a detachment from shareholders or other distractions. An operationally experienced and qualified coach offers insights into where different approaches can be employed to get better outcomes.
The coach remains neutral looking at the overall perspective rather than focusing on one area. Some clients are too close to the issue to either see it or be able to deal with it effectively. Being objective not only provides alternatives but also provides solutions to improve people’s behaviours and business strategies.
Helping individuals identify their best skills and how they can use these within their role, helps to build confidence. It makes them feel valued, showing that the company is invested in their development.
How would you describe your coaching methods?
Our approach is holistic. It takes into account what is being presented operationally and how emotional processes may be driving decisions. We’ve often found, when working with C-level individuals, especially CEOs, they can partially forget their humanity and that can be problematic under pressure. Coaching a business leader, regardless of their level, is often about helping them to discover who they are in relation to, firstly themselves, then their team, and therefore the business. This helps them to tap into their natural strengths to drive the business results.
Finance managers find themselves having to adapt and flex very quickly in today’s environment. It is often about how they can communicate that message effectively to the business and their teams.
We utlise our operational backgrounds to get an understanding of what the bigger picture is, the approach of the individual, and find ways to enhance and deliver professional and personal growth.
It is a coaching relationship built on trust that allows us to know when to use a coaching approach through open operationally-led questions or more a mentoring approach when the individual cannot tap into their thoughts and opinions.
What are the most common hurdles finance leaders struggle with?
Finance managers find themselves having to adapt and flex very quickly in today’s environment. It is often about how they can communicate that message effectively to the business and their teams. Finance leaders are very well qualified, they may only need to fine-tune their focus around the technical aspects of their roles, but focus on leadership, negotiation and communication skills. Indeed the leadership skills for this group can be often overlooked whilst progressing through their careers; coaching and mentoring is an excellent way to help develop these essential skills.
From your experience, what do you think has been the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on businesses in Malta?
Malta has had to learn to operate online and do so at a lightning pace. What’s the preferred platform for communication, how do we keep people safe and healthy, how do we keep people engaged? Thinking about new hires, how to integrate them and onboard them is also a key focus. The list is fairly substantial, and many companies have done an incredible job whilst others have struggled. It comes down to the competence of leaders and managers, beyond their technical ability in their role. The future is undoubtedly a blended model of office and homeworking.
It has opened new channels for many businesses, that previously may not have been seen as viable. They quickly adapted and incorporated these into their core offering and have seen success from it, yet for many others, it has had a detrimental impact. For a company to be able to have staff working remotely, depended on the business itself. I feel this worked overall for larger businesses with more of a digitally-led proposition. However, people-led sectors, like hospitality, have suffered greatly by having to completely shut their doors during the pandemic.
What’s your overall advice when it comes to achieving success in business while finding a good work-life balance?
Firstly understand what work-life balance means to you. Once you realise that it is not the hours you spend at work compared to those you spend at home, you are well on your way to making it more realistic. Now you need to understand how to make it work.
If you manage others, then you also may need to flex those early and late meetings as well as the number of meetings. You also may want to delay sending some emails so they are received within a typical working day. As an employer, it is important to be flexible, review workload, and understand the business does not have to run 9-5.
As an employee, it is ensuring the requirements of the role fit with that of your personal life and allow yourself to feel in control. Having flexibility, a sense of feeling valued and being supported is important.
When you step into a leadership position it is reasonable for you to take responsibility for your wellbeing. Rember the importance of taking care of yourself also helps when thinking of the people you manage, which has a positive impact on the business and shareholders. Being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is not a sign of strength or being in control, but quite the opposite.
With smartphones, it is difficult to separate work life from home. When it is your own business or you have just been employed in a very senior role, the pressure may be on you to work long hours to help the business grow and reach its targets. This will lead to burnout or losing interest and focus. Prioritise what needs to be done, delegate when you can, by understanding not everything has to be done by you. At weekends, have specific non-work time to re-charge your batteries and help you perform better with a positive focus on the business.