World Tour Insights: Mexico Discovers Value in English

Mexico Discovers Value in English

Street Impressions via Munir Hamdan on Flickr

Mexico Discovers Value in English

Doing business in Mexico requires people to know Spanish. Unlike Europe, where a multi-national gathering usually becomes a predominately English-speaking encounter, a similar business meeting in Mexico would be primarily conducted in Spanish. The expectation that companies working in Mexico require Spanish-speaking employees in agents may limit the desirability of partnerships in Mexico, and limit the scope of ventures that might otherwise find Mexico attractive. This also limits the talent pool, because success in a Mexican global company requires speaking Spanish.

To help bring the wider global conversation to Mexico, GlobalEnglish partners with Fundación Televisa Bécalos. This program empowers young adults looking for work with English prior entering the workplace.

Hugo Sancen, the Fundación Televisa Bécalos  program director in Mexico, shared several fascinating statistics on the Mexican job market. He recently met, for instance, with a group of students participating in their scholarship program and learned that many use, OCC, the largest recruitment website for those seeking jobs right out of college. When looking at job listing, this group of students found that 6 out of 21 jobs required English. Although they could apply for the majority of the jobs without speaking English, those the jobs only offered salaries around 8,000 pesos. The ones with English where closer to 12 000 pesos. From this sample, English speakers landing jobs could earn up to one-third more salary!

The landscape changed when they looked at jobs that required 4 years of experience. Out of the 24 discovered in the search, 16 required English. Six where actually written in English. The students quickly understood that English was a fundamental skill for a good career in Mexico.

During our discussion, business leaders expect an announcement from the Secretary of Education’s office that Mexico will commit to be bilingual learning by 2020. We look forward to this announcement, and will work closely with our team in Mexico to support the country during this transformation.

The need to master English for Mexican workers may not always arise in early jobs, except for those focused on serving English speaking markets like outsourced customer service. But English mastery becomes a real need for those who want to move up the career ladder—and critically important to those who need to work with other team members outside of Mexico, or on international projects. The college students saw this during their job searches. Many entry level jobs did not require English, but for those looking to build a career, English was the key to higher paying jobs that required cross-country and cross-region collaboration.

Thank you French American Chamber of Commerce! Honored to be a Role Model.

I don’t really like to talk about myself, but when you win an award, people talk about you even if it embarrasses you. So I’m going to share my thank yous here from this week’s French American Business Awards.

I had a great time at the French American Business Awards (May 26, 2017), organized by the French Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco. My special thank you to Sophie Woodville Ducom and Laurence Fabre Bordet for creating such a wonderful night.

This 4th edition of the event was special, as it launched a brand-new category close to my heart: 2017 Woman Role Model. Not only was I blessed to be a nominee, along other very inspiring women, I also received the special distinction award for being a Woman Role Model.

Thank you also to Merci Odile Roujol, and the rock start female executive team of the chamber who worked so hard to add this award to the event.

There are so many amazing people who helped me on this ongoing journey—some acted as role models, some played cheerleader during the tough times, some provided support, some challenged me to go beyond what I thought I could achieve, and others provided the love necessary to make it all worthwhile.

I want to start with thanking my mum Chantal Michelon, without whom I wouldn’t be here, nor would I be the woman I have become. I also want to thank my partner in life Julien Salanon, my Best Friend Cheerleaders (BFCs) Aurelia Rivier Setton, Murielle Thinard, Karina Sobieski, Virginie Maitre Infanti, Stephanie Jaffre, Aude Quancard Sun, Aurelie A Vincent, Aurelie Ferre, Olfa Zorgati, Danielle Reid,  Céline Goudy, Olivier Lauzeral, Cedric Sellin, Michal Sellin, Sandrine Clouin, Ariane Gorin, Nicole Collet – I cannot tag them all! My apologies and my appreciation to anyone I missed!

For those of you who want to watch it, here is my acceptance speech:

Our host Eve Chaurand, and French Consul general in San Francisco E. Lebrun-Damiens, reminded us how fortunate we are to live in an area where two wonderfully innovative communities come together—and how much further we can grow together. I was constantly enlightened by the new talent brought to my attention as the Chamber presented their awards. Every one of them praised the quality, cooperation and support found in San Francisco’s French community.

As many of you know, I have been traveling a lot over the last month. This evening offered a great opportunity to nurture my roots with the help of many good friends as I return home.

And finally, a little bit of laughter still comes to my lips as I think of Clara Bijl, a talented French stand-up comedian who made the night go as a breeze.

Thank you ALL! I am honored to be considered a role model!

You can find more images of the event on Facebook with web coverage at French Morning and Lost in SF.

More pictures. (Thank you to Octamedia for taking some great shots!).

SXSW Reflections: Skills and Technology

In early March, I had the chance to attend SXSWEdu 2017. I attended with many education stakeholders, from teachers to policy makers, from education investors to for-profit and non-profit staff and leaders.

The event covered a wide range of topics,  but many focused on industry pain points like the price of education, teacher quality, workshop skilling and reskilling.

What follows is a snapshot of my takeaways on education for the workforce and educatoin-related technology.

Workforce Skilling and Re-Skilling

There is an increasing number of alternative educational pathways that help people succeed in developing their careers.

This skill-oriented innovation is focuses first on program of limited duration, second, a “teacher-less” environment — some do not have are 100% project-based with mentors active in the professional works to facilitate learning, and finally,  emergent business models where learning is sometimes free, or it has no up-front cost. In some cases these new models calculate payments based on a percentage of student income following the program.

Example: The Shortage of Developers

Being in the Silicon Valley we are well exposed to the shortage of developers. Several solutions have emerged to help bring advanced technology skills to interested learners.

Coding boot camps, for instance, like Ecole42 [covered on the blog here] initially founded in France and funded by French entrepreneur Xavier Niel, co-exists with other institutions and companies like the Holberton School, General Assembly*, Trilogy, and Thinkful. Programs in areas outside of programming, such as inside sales training, are also beginning to appear.

Most individuals now find themselves facing more choices.  Some companies, like Burning Glass, are exploring the implications of learning programs choices.  They help people decide which skills to develop next, and what sort of salary boost those skills will likely deliver.

Given the non-traditional approaches to learning, it becomes incumbent on Employers to implement better ways to assess the skills and aptitudes of potential hires and current employees. We all need better ways to demonstrate what we know, and what we can do. One interesting innovation employs bitcoin blockchain to verify academic credentials. Degreed offers a lifelong learning transcript that includes both formal and informal education and accomplishments.

Organizations that seeks talent from a variety of credible sources clearly needs to understand its own definition of what good looks like.

Technology Trends

The major technology trends are still revolve around key themes like data and analytics, AI, virtual and augmented reality and Simulation. Here are a few highlights.

Predictive Analytics: The promise of big data in education is finally starting to be realized. In a back-test in the state of West Virginia, BrightBytes demonstrated an ability to predict with 90% accuracy whether a particular third-grader would drop out of high school. BrightBytes’s predictive analytics then recommend intervention strategies to reduce the chance of that student dropping out. Civitas Learning’s Student Insight Engine  helps colleges reduce their dropout rates by identifying at-risk students. The company also created a data-driven advising tool that ensures that a student is prepared to succeed in a particular course before enrolling in it.

A lot of data remains to be mined. As we capture more information about learners during business learning experiences, our industry need to prepare to leverage that data, to discover patterns and to deliver more personalized learning and more insightful analytics.

AI-Powered Helpers and Tutors: As we deliver more high-touch human learning experiences, such as tutoring, coaching and mentoring, we know from our customers that they are among the most effective tools for improving student outcomes and persistence. Scale remains the challenge to delivering the equivalence of personalized, face-to-face learning to every student at an accessible price. 2016 saw number of experiments in the use of artificial intelligence as a way to scale access to support services. A Georgia Institute of Technology Professor, for instance, used IBM Watson to create Jill Watson, an AI powered Teaching Assistant which worked alongside eight human teaching assistants. 2017, will be the year to explore additional education use cases for AI-powered assistants or chatbots.

No AI technology will replace humans; but they will free human educators and administrators to focus on making higher-level contributions to student success, by applying machine learning to other problems, including learning analytics and the curation of learning objects.

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Simulations: We think virtual reality and augmented reality will eventually be very important, but the use cases where we can fully leverage the technology remain limited. Military, defense, equipment training  and some sports applications are the most proven training scenarios so far. Simulation technology is currently having a much broader impact than AR or VR. MobLab, for instance, allows students, and finance professionals, to run virtual lab experiments in business, economics, and the social sciences.

Great Content That Gets Enthusiastic Learner Engagement: Many investors are convinced that the value of educational content is headed toward zero because there is so much available for free on the web, including the videos and tools of Khan Academy, CK-12, OpenStax, and Open Up Resources. However great interactive content is becoming even more valuable as the platforms for delivering it become more ubiquitous. This is especially true for differentiate  content tied to active, collaborative, project-based learning.

Joy and News: A New GlobalEnglish This Holiday Season and Beyond

New GlobalEnglish

A New GlobalEnglish

This is the time of year that people share their joys and their news in personal newsletters. Well, my year has been pretty exciting, and I think it is time to share that news here.

In November, I joined with a group of colleagues and investors to buy the Business English portion of Pearson. Our buyout resulted in the formation, or should I say, reformation, of GlobalEnglish.

For those you who read many of my blogs, you know I believe in the importance of diversity in the boardroom and in companies in general. It is not only about gender but having people representing different backgrounds, different cultures, different markets. For this to happen, we need to have people from all horizons being able to express themselves in a group with a common language.

At GlobalEnglish we give a voice to global talent by delivering an exceptional Business English learning experience. We do this through technology and programs that empower talent to better execute, collaborate and innovate for the organizations they work for, while leading the way toward more inclusive and accessible opportunities for talent around the world.

The GlobalEnglish team has been working very long hours helping to create a new, independent company. Some of the team was here when GlobalEngilsh was acquired by Pearson. Some have a twenty-year legacy, others have just started. It is truly a blessing to work with a team of such outstanding individuals, all of whom are passionate about our leaners, aligned with our values and dedicated to helping our customers achieve their goals.

The New GlobalEnglish is my Passion

GlobalEnglish is my passion. In many ways it is far from the products I worked on at Microsoft and Oracle. GlobalEnglish One is not Oracle’s database, and it is not SharePoint. Both of those products create frameworks for other people to build solutions. By contrast, the GlobalEnglish One helps individuals start to master Business English the first time they use it. We have spent the time to learn from our customers and through that we have built a great learning experience that includes self-paced training, situational learning and personalized coaching,

I am excited for our future. As the global economy attempts to make sense of all of the changes of 2016, I firmly believe that globalization will remain a key component of success, and that more people than ever will need to learn English to thrive in their markets, to enter new markets, and to track trends and developments that will allow them to innovate.

I am very thankful to be a part of this phoenix of a company rising again to take flight on its own.

Our future very much depends not just on the obstacles we face, but how we choose to overcome those obstacles. At GlobalEnglish we promise to take the path that includes and empowers.

As a reader of my blog, that you for helping add to the energy I draw on to help build new things. The new GlobalEnglish, while very experienced, is also a very young company — I look forward to nurturing it in 2017, and sharing more of my stories with you are we go through the year.

Season’s Greeting and Happy Holidays.

Five Joys of Being a People Manager

Five Joys of Being a People Manager

Five Joys of Being a People Manager

So on the back of a rather negative post focused on managers avoiding bad behavior, I thought it would be good to write a blog that shares five of the biggest joys I experience when managing and leading people.

  1. Seeing people grow. I love to see people accumulate experiences and become better people. Better at their job, better at life, better at relationships. Too often we look at people only through the lens of performance. But when we hire people, we hire the whole person, and we need to appreciate all the ways they learn and grow.
  2. Learning from my team. I know there are a lot of things I still need to learn, and I love learning them from my team. Diverse teams bring different perspectives and a variety of knowledge. I think good managers become better managers when they open themselves up to the knowledge of their team and drink deeply.
  3. Watching stress turn into celebration. We have all experienced difficult projects that create stress. We are over budget, out of time or the customer isn’t happy with result or progress. But you know, we come through all those difficulties, and many times after passing through the trials, we can look back and celebrate our accomplishments. Those difficulties teach us about our business, about the world, and about ourselves—and I think they can create powerful moments of personal and team celebration that recognizes joy in overcoming a difficult path.
  4. Learning through new eyes. The more we learn and experience ourselves, and the narrower our focus becomes, we tend to forget the pure joy of learning something new—the delight in revelation of new ideas or relationships. I not only enjoy seeing people on my team get very excited about their work, but also thrive on the energy passed on to me—and the reminder that I need to keep pushing myself to find new experiences that will bring me that joy directly.
  5. Staying connected to former colleagues. Perhaps one of the biggest joys comes from the friendships that cross the boundary from work to personal. That can be a tricky thing for those who currently work for you, but retaining a friendship with former peers and colleagues is a pleasure.

You may have your own list, but regardless of which items fall into your top five, I think you will agree that managing and leading people should be something you really enjoy doing, something that thrills you and inspires you. Our businesses are important, but they wouldn’t be nearly as valuable to our customers, or to us, without the great people who contribute their time, their intellect and their physical being every day.

How to Avoid Being a Management Turkey

How to Avoid Being a Management Turkey

How to Avoid Being a Management Turkey

I’ve had the privilege to manage people for many years, and I’ve watched others manage as well. Fortunately, I have not experienced all of these behaviors myself, but I have seen some—and I have heard the horror stories from friends and colleagues about the others.

In the spirit of the holiday, I offer ten behaviors managers should avoid so their employees, partners and peers don’t think they are acting like turkeys.

  1. Saying one thing, doing another. Inconsistency damages organizations because people never know what to expect, and that leads to inaction across the board.
  2. There is just no excuse. Anyone who is asked to lead or manage other people needs to, if nothing else, respect the people he or she works with. If you don’t respect people, you cannot expect them to respect you, which means that any achievements will be the outcome of fear or politics, not commitment and excellence.
  3. Not apologizing. We all make mistakes. We need to say we are sorry and mean it. A real apology doesn’t include a “but” or an “explanation”. A good manager owns his/her mistakes and his/her apologies. The best apology is action that isn’t repeated.
  4. Blaming others. This one goes hand-in-hand with number 3, not apologizing, but extends it from the individual to the organization. Passing off your mistakes to others hurts the organization by rapidly degrading trust.
  5. Holding a grudge. People who design things expect failure, and therefore, create designs that forgive users for mistakes. We don’t design most organizations, they just happen, and too often, when mistakes reflect on a leader, he or she holds a grudge rather than thinking through how they forgive and move forward. I like the idea of resiliency, as resiliency means that the recovery from an error makes things better, not worse. I see forgiveness as a tool of the resilient organization.
  6. Encouraging politics. Humans are political animals. We really don’t have a choice, but we can recognize politics, call it out and try to rise above it for the greater good. The manager who encourages and gets caught up in politics only helps those that help him or her, which isn’t how an organization learns and grows together.
  7. Taking credit for other people’s work. This represents a simple decision to do the wrong thing. There is no excuse for this. People work hard, and good managers recognize those who deserve recognition regardless if a person wants the accolades or wishes to avoid them out of humbleness or selflessness. Taking credit for other people’s work steals goodness from the work experience.
  8. Avoiding decisions. Some decisions are tough. Some are easy. Many prove unpopular. But one of the primary responsibilities of a manager or leader is to make decisions.
  9. Not trusting people. Managers who don’t trust others end up ineffective for many reasons. Most importantly, they either do everything themselves, or feel compelled to be so involved in everyone else’s work that they might as well do it themselves. This results in poor team productivity because everybody knows that no matter what they do, it just won’t be good enough unless the manager adds his or her touch or spin.
  10. Always being right. Always being right is just as bad as not trusting people, because it leads to teams who don’t trust themselves—and that means little learning and little progress. Stuff just doesn’t get done well or very fast.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. If you are a manager, may you return from the holiday refreshed and self-reflective—if you are managed by another person, may you discover the assertiveness to confront bad behavior, and therefore make the world a better place for all.

Why is English Critical to the Gig Economy

Gig Economy - Business woman driving a car

Welcome to the Gig Economy

Most organizations no longer give people the promise, or even hint, of lifetime employment. While stock options, bonuses and other compensation help keep employees for some period of time, in most cases, employment has become a matter of mutual benefit to the employer and the employee. An August 2015 study by accounting software maker Intuit expects upwards of 43 percent of people to be in the contingent labor market by 2020. When people want to leave to do something else, they leave.

Stephane Kasriel, CEO of upwork, the largest freelancer platform, called the Gig Economy the secret weapon of the US economy in his last interview in The Street.

Facing disruption in many once-stable industries, more workers are freelancing and turning to “alternative” employment strategies to cobble together their livings, but as the economy improves, the amount, perception, and desirability of freelance work seems to be changing.
63 percent of freelancers said that they started freelancing out of choice, up 10 points since 2014. A majority also said that they saw having a “diversified portfolio of clients” as more stable than having a single employer. And about half of them said that there was “no amount of money” that could convince them to take a traditional job. (Results from an online survey of roughly 6,000 working Americans).

I see people who move from company-to-company as being great at three personal learning traits:

  • rapid understanding of a business,
  • social awareness that allows them to quickly become a effective co-workers, &
  • swift mastery of variations in process and practice.

Good interpersonal communications support those three traits, as does the ability to understand the work environment—and that requires a solid understanding of the working language, which more likely than not, will be English.

Business English as the Voice of Talent

In many ways, English becomes the protocol that permits the Gig Economy to work. If people had to assimilate new language and cultural concepts to do about the same kind of job they did at another company, the Gig Economy would fill with friction. It would take people large amounts of time to learn what they need to know to be effective.

Gig Economy - man working on laptop at coffee shop

But because English has become the protocol for representing ideas, the frameworks across business become transparent. And when variations occur, everyone uses that same language framework for describing those variations. As people move throughout their Gig jobs, picking up ever more experience, they will find fewer and fewer variations they have not seen before.

So English becomes the lubrication of the Gig Economy, allowing people to deliver value to multiple employers during their careers by leveraging their growing experience within domains of knowledge, rather than functions within a given business.

The Gig Economy appeals to many because it also allows them more personal choice and flexibility as to when to work, and even where. People throughout the world who want to find employment in the Gig economy would do well to master Business English so they can more easily move not just from job-to-job, or employer-to-employer, but from country-to-country.

Can the Gig Economy Bring Relief to Refugees?

Handmade Banner Refugees Welcome - Can the Gig Economy Bring Relief to Refugees?

Can the Gig Economy Bring Relief to Refugees?

The recent presidential debate reminded me of the importance of sharing the responsibilities across nations to help solve the refugee challenge. I talked with colleague and friend Daniel W. Rasmus at Serious Insights about innovative ways to approach the refugee crisis [see his post here].

I started with the work I did a few months ago with the U.S. State Department, where I learned about the plight of refugees inside of countries across Europe and elsewhere who find it hard to find work, or are denied work in their skilled profession based on local regulations around certification and licensing.

We started thinking about the Gig Economy which Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, called the secret weapon of the US economy in his last interview on The Street.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 15, 2015: Female Syrian refugees are picking donated clothes at charity collecting point. They are listening to an announcement made by aid worker.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – SEPTEMBER 15, 2015: Female Syrian refugees are picking donated clothes at charity collecting point. They are listening to an announcement made by aid worker.

Considering how technology enables more of that “gig” technology, we started discussing it as the solution to bringing much needed paying work to refugees, reducing the burden of acclimation by local governments and reducing the incidents of violence spurred by perceptions of refugees displacing native workers.

Samasource is helping with what they call “the bottom of the bottom,” by providing projects to people inside refugee camps that pay significantly more than equivalent hours of manual labor.

We kind of both started saying the same things. What if we flipped the model so that businesses around the world provided access to remote jobs for skilled workers around the world, who may be displaced by circumstance—but still highly qualified to deliver their expertise.

And at the core of this, those companies could increase the value of these workers by helping them learn English, which would reduce their costs by ensuring the understand work assignments, and that they deliver quality results.

While experiments like the Samasource and Crowdflower to GiveWork app attempted to bring together refugees with quality monitor in the U.S., no one has scaled a solution. What we need to do is take the flipping idea even further and help make the landed refugees citizens of the world first. I’m not suggesting that they abandon loyalty to the country in which they settled, but that in order to contribute locally they will need work, and it might well be that global work will be more accessible than local work. The faster we can make them citizens of the world, the better it is for them, for their employers, and for the local economies.

There is no magic formula that is going to help the millions of displaced workers tomorrow, but we believe that the world needs innovative ideas. The number of displaced grows daily and we have to find new engagement pathways—and encouraging global companies to take on not just citizenship efforts that pour money into third-party programs—but programs that bring refugees into organizations so they can contribute through global collaboration and communications systems.

I’m committing that in the next six months I’m going to find a way to hire a couple of recently settled refugees. I ask my fellow leaders to join me in finding an answer to the question: Can the Gig Economy Bring Relief to Refugees?

Will Innovative New School 42 Create The Next Gold Alumni Network?

Innovative New School 42 Karine-42-2

Will Innovative New School 42 Create The Next Gold Alumni Network?

For many of us in the Silicon Valley, we know well the shortage of programmers and coders. We also know that the shortage isn’t just about coding, but about innovative thinking among those who know how to code.

I was thinking about this as I drove to an event recently. After a beautiful drive over the Dumbarton Bridge from the Peninsula, I arrived in Fremont, at a large building—and I entered the brand new US-based school known simply as 42.

For those of you not familiar with Ecole, it is a new university model aimed at disrupting education by providing a FREE coding school, that is project-based and peer reviewed.  You read it right: No teachers, no lectures, no tuition.

The university model has operated in Paris for a while.  It is fully funded with a $100M philanthropic effort of a well known businessman, Xavier Niel, who already disrupted the telecom industry with mobile operator Iliad’s Free brand.

I have previously written about how investment in education has increased over the last several years. This is driven not only by the student loan crisis and the increasing focus on the ROI of educational institutions, but also by the new ways to monetize and deliver education enabled by the Internet.

Digitalization has impacted educational products, services and delivery. It has also expanded the set of players coming to the market. For example, LinkedIn acquired Lynda, creating new vertical strategy for technology market learning. In the digital world, learning on its own is not sufficient. These digital services exponentially increase the value for learners. Lynda’s, for instance, links to finding a job as an outcome, with its integration into recruitment services.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to moderate a launch roundtable for the ‘piscine’ at 42. The “piscine,” or “pool” is an intensive entrance process that gives students a month at the school to understand learner motivation and skill.  I was impressed by the scale, the speed and the team driving this project.

There are many factors that make 42 unique and successful. Here are few of my thoughts about their approach:

  • A team with an incredible passion and ability to execute

Each person proudly wears their Ecole 42 staff tee-shirt. The style of communication is open and collaborative. Every staff member is either an alumni, shares a strong sense of purpose with the school, or is an avid defender of the model. They want to show how to provide access to critical skills for people who might not otherwise have access.

Just two months ago they announced they would come to the US and launch in the summer. And here they are, with new buildings, the first set of students, all while finalizing the campus.

  • The magic sauce: An end-to-end model with the student at the center

Not only is there a shared pedagogy, but the whole structure is centered on the individual.

The school does not include the idea of a standard “term,” recognizing that every individual progresses his or her own pace. Some may finish the school and get to level 21 in 2 years, while other learners may take as long as 5 years.

Brittany Bir, the COO of 42, explained that accounts will never close. This leaves the opportunity for students to come back if it becomes relevant to them.

While tuition is free, Kwame Yamgnane, the managing director of 42, asserts that free tuition is not sufficient. The ability to come back means tuition remains free for life.

42 also offers lodging. Onsite dorms provide learners with a place to stay while they learn.

Initial success

I had the opportunity to talk with two students, Antoine Bungert and Henri Dumas. Antoine is currently a Level 10 student in Paris. He has participated in the annual 42/HEC partnership program. Henri, a Level 11, recently completed a partnership and an internship with thanks to his studies at 42.

Innovative New School 42 Karine-41-1Both students recognized an immediate connection of their studies to potential jobs. The moment the students shared their studies at 42 via LinkedIn companies started reaching out with job offers.

42 students help reach underserved populations. Eighteen-percent of the students are women,  five times that of institutional averages.

Not only does 42 attract job offers and teach great coding, but they help their students master 21st Century skills like collaboration, communication and team work, skills often not taught by other schools.

I bet the alumni network of this school will be strong. I look forward to seeing how their graduates flourish as entrepreneurs and innovators that start their own businesses and contribute within larger organizations!

Managing Uncertainty in a Time of Chaos and Shifting Realities

Confusion Diagram Shows Direction Or OptionsManaging Uncertainty

Change is inevitable, and it arrives from many sources. Last week, those in the United Kingdom, the European countries, and most places across the world felt a wave of uncertainty as the Brexit measure passed in the UK. This left governments, businesses and individuals with many uncertainties about jobs, trade, regulations and many other areas. This one event is precipitating uncertainty across the globe.

Closer to home, uncertainty is a huge issue in technology-heavy places like Silicon Valley, where many have worked for a company that has been acquired, re-organized, or perhaps just ceased operations.

We all face what I call the dysfunction of transition, the chaotic time of moving from one reality to the next. Individuals make a choice of letting the future happen to them, or participating in the co-creation of the future. Those who worry about protecting the past will likely find themselves on the wrong side of history. Those who help co-create the future also help find their place in the future.

As leaders we can help our team when facing uncertainty. Here are 4 practices that I redouble in times of uncertainty and ask of the leaders and managers in my organization:

  1. Keep moving – Manage deadlines and priorities. Uncertainty does not mean that things stop. Leaders must manage to deadlines with great vigilance in times of uncertainty because even the best employees start second guessing what is important. In less stressful times, it might only be necessary to reach an agreement, and the staff will go off and do what they have committed to. In times of stress, people get distracted and miss deadlines and let other responsibilities, like maintaining good customer or partner relationships, suffer. Unless a company is closing its doors, those partners and customers are part of the new future, and it is important to remind people that the best future is one that arrives from a strong present.
  2. Increase communication among the management team. It is very important that the management team be on the same page and deliver consistent messages. In times of uncertainty, knowing the right thing to say can be difficult, and just making a statement from experience may not result in the best statement to share with a team or individual. The management team needs to discuss any questions that aren’t clear and come to a consensus about how to answer those questions consistently. Managers need to look to each other to keep their own issues with uncertainty in check, and to shore up their personal safe guards in order to avoid making the already difficult situation of change into something negative.Businesspeople sitting at the table during a meeting in office
  3. Create as many learning opportunities as you can. One of the drivers of fear in the face of uncertainty comes from being too routine, or too personally connected to a particular skill or discipline. Most businesses give people opportunities to stretch their experiences, learn new areas and challenge themselves. I find that those who do this are much less fearful of uncertainty because they know they can align with whatever happens. Instead of wasting time worrying about what might happen, take that worry time and focus it on learning.
  4. Listen, console and coach. Not everyone has been through major changes in their lives or careers—and some don’t deal with change well, even if they have been through this before. Managers need to recognize this and make maintaining a cohesive, engaged and productive organization their priority. That means listening to people, coaching them through transitions and reminding them of priorities. Sometimes it may mean consoling them because something they believe is important is going away, be it a technology or a process, or perhaps a colleague. Good managers are at their best when they help the people who rightly or wrongly perceive themselves as facing the most risk, work their way through the transition.

It is important that we see change as a learning opportunity.

It is important that we see change as a learning opportunity. I learn something new about myself, my organization, about the world, every time change occurs. It is important for me to pass along this love for learning to my management team and to the entire organization, as I believe that only by actively learning from change do we find a way to face it without fear.

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RT @GlobalEnglish: GlobalEnglish is the heart at the center of the #CHROLATAM sponsor list.
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RT @MarcoGurgoneGE: Thanks @iVentiv for inviting us at the "L&D" Executive Knowledge Exchange in London this week! @GlobalEnglish #HRLeader…
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RT @MarcoGurgoneGE: @GlobalEnglish attending the "Corporate Education & Organization Development" Conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia ht…
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If start-ups teach us anything, it is that true leaders pitch in and do what needs to be done. They don't worry about boundaries, just goals. And they bring everyone along with them.


We are surrounded by technology. Leveraging technology is a strategic necessity. The best leaders will transform emerging technology into a strategic advantage, and they won't be afraid to abandon the obsolete.


Education is essential. Life-long learning is the key ingredient for today's business.