Blog article

How Sage Group is supporting resilience in small and medium-sized businesses

In September 2020, Steve Hare, chief executive of Sage Group, became Glassdoor’s highest-rated CEO in the U.K. during the COVID-19 pandemic. The workplace review site cited the level of communication and employee engagement Hare and his management team maintained during the crisis. “It is the key for all of us, including me personally, to make sure that we’re all keeping connected,” Hare said recently.

This focus on connection also holds true for Sage Group’s relationships with its customers, the small and medium-sized businesses that buy or subscribe to its accounting and back-office management software, including systems for payroll, HR, and payments. At the start of the crisis, Sage began offering short-term payment holidays to help clients as they

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Pfizer’s vaccine machine

Talk about a pivot. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was one year into his tenure. Bourla, born and educated in Greece, is a 27-year veteran of the company. A trained veterinarian, he rose through the ranks of its animal health unit, and subsequently held leadership positions responsible for numerous businesses, including vaccines, oncology, and consumer products, before taking the post of chief operating officer in 2018. As he formally took the reins of the company on January 1, 2019, Bourla was focused on continuing Pfizer’s transformation into a pure-play biopharmaceutical company: placing its consumer health business in a joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline in 2019, preparing to spin off the Upjohn unit in a deal with Mylan, and rebranding the more than 170-year-old company to focus on its heritage of making scientific breakthroughs that could aid humanity. A year later, Bourla and Pfizer were intently focused on

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Building a culture of learning at work

A few years ago, leaders at the Gates Foundation reached out to see if I could help them improve their culture. They already had a strong culture of performance: They hired world-class scientists and maintained excellence of execution. Their goal was to improve their learning culture, in which people have the humility to know what they don’t know and the curiosity to rethink the way they’ve always done things.

When I first arrived, people were whispering about the annual strategy reviews. It’s the time when program teams across the foundation meet with the cochairs — Bill and Melinda Gates — and the CEO to give progress reports on execution and collect feedback. Leaders were concerned that the pressure to present airtight analyses was discouraging people from taking risks. They often stuck to tried‑and‑true strategies that would make incremental progress rather than daring to undertake bold experiments that might make a

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Supporting employees working from home

In mid-December, a light appeared at the end of a long, dark tunnel when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency authorizations for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. A month later, that light wavered as the death toll in the U.S. reached 400,000 — having reached 300,000 just five weeks earlier — and the outgoing director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the worst of the pandemic was yet to come. As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Even as millions of people are getting vaccinated, many employees won’t be returning to the workplace for months to come. Instead, they will continue to work from home with all the distractions, stresses, and fears that they have experienced over the past year. This is not an insignificant problem: 25 percent of respondents to a PwC Workforce Pulse Survey conducted between January

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Why the first five minutes of a meeting shape its outcome

Meetings that just happen by default waste precious time, invite poor decisions, add to exhaustion, and fray relationships. Given these risks, I proposed in a previous article that successful meetings are intentionally designed. The basic idea is that to support people and move critical objectives forward, leaders need to ask themselves four questions: Why are you meeting? Who needs to be there? What conversation needs to happen? And how can you create the conditions that will enable that conversation? In my experience, leaders are often able to answer the first three questions with just a little extra effort. But they usually come up empty when it comes to the last one.

The trouble starts before the attendees show up (or log on). Many people arrive at meetings prepared to be disengaged. Whether it is a recurring team call, a project team update, or a longer strategy retreat, participants often lack

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Will the C-suite empty out in 2021?

Given the world-turned-upside-down year we just closed out, it is probably wise to steer clear of making predictions. But it can be hard to resist the temptation in January to submit to this traditional exercise of forecasting the future.

We all know that the pandemic has changed the world of work for the long term, but one aspect of that change that may be underappreciated right now is the number of senior executives who are likely to balk at the idea of going back to the office full time. Once most people have gotten the vaccine, and companies decide that they want their leaders back at headquarters, there is likely to be a test of wills. I’ve heard countless stories from executives this past year who have reconnected with their spouses and kids and are healthier because they have more control over their schedule to build in consistent exercise. Flexible

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