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Andrea Clarke

Great Ideas: Future Fit by Andrea Clarke {Interview}

Lessons from former reporter turned CEO coach Andrea Clarke

What can a former Washington D.C. news correspondent teach us about managing remote employees?
A lot, it turns out, because a newsroom is totally dependent on a mobile workforce.
Former reporter, author, and founder of CareerCEO, Andrea Clarke, shares lessons on leading and managing in Future Fit.

The future of work is just as much about talent, as it is technology. That comes down to mastering human skills like creativity, reputation capital, leadership, continuous learning, etc.

The traditional workplace is morphing into a far looser and less structured form. We're working in remote teams, we're working separately, but collaboratively on our own terms.

Trust is everything. I think as more time goes by, trust is going to become far more relevant for all of us because we've got up to 65% of U.S businesses embracing remote teams.

A newsroom is a good example of the dynamic and the hierarchy that's required to have a really effective staff. Essentially, it's a flat hierarchy, but the process is simplified.
A newsroom follows a framework that is basically exactly the same as the software company Atlassian’s playbook framework that they use to turn great teams into amazing teams.

The Chief of Staff in a newsroom will identify the team, assign a story and then let go. High performing teams need to be left alone. This is a really important factor for everyone who's moving into managing remote teams.

This is important for all of us, because we often walk into environments where we make assumptions about what works for other people and different dynamic personalities.

Be really clear about how often employees check in. The Chief of Staff will say, "I will expect to hear from you every 30 minutes until the end of the day."

Good communication is helpful in keeping news crews engaged and motivated and pushing the story along. It also helps the Chief of Staff organise all of those other things around him. For instance, up to 12 camera crews.

The roles in the team are made very clear and so are the responsibilities. Everyone is absolutely crystal clear on what they've got to get done through the day in that news crew.

Finally, work out how to measure success.  In a newsroom, that's made clear as well. You will be expected to file for the 11:30 morning news, the 5:00 p.m., the 7:00 p.m., and updates.

There should be no doubt in your employees’ minds about what they need to focus on through the day. I think that that is often taken for granted in a workplace where everyone's making assumptions about what's expected by when and how people operate best.

Atlassian’s team playbook is open source for everyone to access. In a nutshell:
  1. A shared understanding of the problem that the team is solving.
  2. Assigning a full-time owner. There's one person in the team that really owns that mission and champions that mission, both internally and externally to stakeholders.
  3. The team is balanced. They have the right people in the right roles and everyone is really clear on what those responsibilities are.
  4. There's value in metrics. Success is defined both by the team and by the stakeholder. No one's reading between the lines. It's all totally transparent and quite clear to everyone.

Andrea’s GREAT EIGHT, answers to eight getting to know you questions we ask all our authors.

Recommended book: Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist Guide To The Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman.

If you could co-author a book with anybody in the world, who would it be, and what’s the title? Rachel Botsman, who is an Oxford scholar and the author of Who Can You Trust? I can’t think of a title.

What's the best piece of advice you could share? Be bold enough to be who you are without apology (Brené Brown quote).

What's been your lowest moment and how did you recover from it? I do have one particularly horrendous and challenging phase when I started my business in 2012. I was in this short and painful space of no cash flow. I was literally 24 hours away from bankrupting myself, and handing my apartment back to the bank. I had to workshop the problem and came out of it, after a few tears, okay. But it taught me a lot about the reality of start-up life and really backing yourself. If you've got an idea that you believe in, you've got to go for it. Don't worry about the cost.

How do you relax? Reformer Pilates, every morning at 7:00.  

What's a fun fact that's not widely known about you?  When I was 21, I was in London and I got a job as a nanny for Diana Ross. I lived and worked with Diana Ross looking after her two youngest boys at the time, throughout Europe and London and Los Angeles.

What is the secret of success? I think it's working hard. As I said, I think it's backing yourself when you've got an idea that in your gut you really know is going to work, you've got to pursue it. You've got to ignore the advice of other people in that phase of getting into market. Because no one really knows how driven you are. I think ignoring the advice of others at certain points in your career is actually really important.

What's your prediction for 2025? I would love to see a Master's degree in human skills become part of the curriculum and the criteria across universities and schools. Because I do think that is the one thing that's missing from our conventional schooling. It is understanding and mastering those skills that will make us disproportionately advantaged in our careers.

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