Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Empathy-Driven Remote Leadership: Insights from Andrew Tilling, CEO/Founder of The Hive Change Consultancy Ltd

Leaders Perception Magazine is currently running an interview series called – Building a Successful Remote Work Culture: Discussing strategies and best practices for fostering a productive and engaged remote workforce, addressing topics like communication, collaboration tools, work-life balance, and employee well-being

Interviewee Name: Andrew Tilling

Company: The Hive Change Consultancy Ltd

Position: CEO / Founder

Linkedin Profile: linkedin.com/in/andrewtilling

Andrew Tilling’s favorite quote: “ “My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that ‘achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that’s nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.”

― Helen Hayes

We had the opportunity to speak with Andrew Tilling, the CEO and Founder of The Hive Change Consultancy Ltd. Leading a remote team spread across Italy, Australia, and the UK, Andrew shares his experiences and expertise in remote work, emphasizing the power of empathy in fostering innovation and connection. With a strong focus on engagement through enablement, Andrew has guided organizations through transformative culture changes, all while embracing remote methods. In this interview, Andrew reveals his three golden rules for remote working: work less, connect more; silence is golden; and rituals matter. Additionally, he highlights the significance of leading rather than managing and celebrating vulnerability in building trust and creating a supportive remote work environment. Join us as we delve into Andrew’s insights and learn how to navigate remote work successfully while prioritizing human connection and personal well-being.

The Interview

Thank you so much for joining us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your backstory?

Andrew Tilling : I lead a small team of 7 employees with around 15 external associate partners who work for me as and when needed.
We are an entirely remote team: working from Italy, Australia and the UK. We have no central office. We all work from home and work flexibly in a way that works for us personally in order to get things done.

I have led all my life and have lived my life to serve the communities we live in, be that through award winning youth work, supporting social enterprise, fundraising for charities or consulting for big business committed to making a positive impact. I specialise in engagement through enablement; using leadership, management, sales and innovation training to deliver culture change for organisations whose work is simply too important to fail. Before the pandemic most of my work was done face to face, but I was an early advocate for remote learning and coaching. People used to say you can’t coach over the phone because you can’t see the other person, which I thought was ridiculous. Are you saying a person who is blind cannot be a coach? That you can’t have a deep conversation with the lights off? Working remotely is a different kind of connection, but connection is possible. It’s about showing empathy in a different way.

My work harnesses empathy to inspire innovation. I tend to be most valuable in complex stakeholder environments, working with change leaders in international organisations like multinational tech firms or smaller teams working on complicated challenges. Through helping people build a sense of other people’s worlds, me and the team have helped deliver extraordinary changes; quadrupling sales performance in 18 months, significant improvement in staff retention, defined breakthrough strategies to get teams unstuck and strategic, collaborative cultures embedded across otherwise siloed organisations. Much of what we have achieved has been done using remote methods.

I host my own podcast series (www.consultthehive.com/beeline) which is all about the future of work, the essentials of great leadership and organisational performance. I am the creator of The STORM Process® which is a complete transformational leadership and team coaching methodology for creative thinking, problem solving and getting things done.

How do you ensure effective communication and collaboration among remote team members? Can you share any specific tools or practices that have been particularly effective for your organization?

Andrew Tilling : My 3 golden rules for remote working are principals we have honed over time and that we apply every week in our work as a team.

Work less, connect more.
Silence is golden
Rituals matter

1. Work less, connect more.
Some businesses think online meetings should be time efficient and focused, and that’s important when there is a job to be done. But meetings historically are really all about the coffee break. Think about how people behave face to face. Some people arrive together having had a 3 minute prep conversation before they walk in to present a unified front. Others are buzzing with catch up conversation about the weekend around the water cooler. Often there is a natter about the latest episode of our favourite series. Informal connection creates bond. Our team have coffee breaks scheduled into the shared calendar. We meet to not work, and just be together. My fortnightly one to ones are an informal walk. We have camera’s off and go for a walk with a headset on. It lifts our spirits and allows for much more creative insight too. Focusing on the connection rather than the work has had a massive impact on our collective well being and made us more trusting and effective as a team.

2. Silence is Golden
Silent meetings are a wonderful tool for helping people work through the more challenging conversations. We open a shared document with the issue written at the top and space for everyone to contribute their thoughts below. We ask questions and answer with a written response, which we write live, and in silence, while on the call together. The questions we use are:
What are we trying to achieve?
What are you most concerned about?
What would be great for you?
What would be best for us?

At they end we reflect on what everyone else has written and then have a discussion.
This is an amazing tool for clearing up confusion, building empathy and ensuring diversity and inclusivity of thinking.
Tool aside, giving people ample time to collect their thoughts and respond in a considered way without this need to fill online time with noise makes the world of difference to the quality of your communication.

3. Rituals matter
RItuals are an important part of culture building and maintaining productivity and our working remotely is of no exception. The problem is, we can’t see them. We can’t encourage people to take a break, log out, have a cup of tea or even exchange a high five. So get creative. Our Monday starts with a team huddle. We share our focus as a team, our individual focus for the week, a piece of inspiration, thank you’s for people who went above and beyond and invite people to ask for help if they need it. It’s consistent and powerful and sets us all up for success. Other rituals include a quick message in the feed to share what we are up to each day. A debrief call after client calls. Coffee breaks. Using our values as language. Sharing stories when our values are brought to life, awarding well-being days for people who need time out during an intense period and taking it in turns to run the huddle.
Most especially we come together when we can, even if it’s once or twice a year, on a retreat. We use the time to walk, talk, eat, drink, play and do the deep thinking. It has bonded us and helped the team to build the culture they want to work it, and it has made us all deeply protective of it. We know we have each other’s back and it matters.

Maintaining work-life balance can be challenging in a remote work environment. What strategies do you recommend for remote employees to create boundaries between work and personal life? How can organizations support their employees in achieving a healthy work-life balance?

Andrew Tilling : There are tactical things that make a difference, such as logging out, blocking out time in the diary and being respectful of time zones, but these won’t fix the problem, they can only help you manage the symptoms. From a strategic point of view I recommend two key principals.

1. Lead, don’t manage.
I tell my team ‘Don’t make me manage you. None of us have time for that. I am here to lead you. Manage yourself.’ This helps keep me out of the micromanagement trap and builds instant trust. Hold each other accountable for results, not methods. My team have complete flexibility on time they work. We attend meetings we accept and we get the job done.

2. Celebrate vulnerability
I share when I have to pick up my child. I cheer when someone wants to work from an exotic location. I show off the cat crawling over the keyboard. I communicate when I feel overwhelmed. I ask the team for help, feedback and insight. I tell people I’m logging off for the day.

In these two strategies, we set the a powerful tone. We don’t need to put on a face for each other, or make out that we are ‘always on’. We make it safe to have space for the life that as remote workers we have so deeply entwined with our working day. In doing so, we can be curious about hairdressing appointments and amazon deliveries without people feeling they have lost face. The risk is the occasional person who abuses that trust. That is when you start to manage. But the reward is real trust, real commitment and loyalty, and a very hard working and engaged team.

Leaders Perception Magazine would like to thank Andrew Tilling and The Hive Change Consultancy Ltd for the time dedicated to completing this interview and sharing their valuable insights with our readers!

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