Leading a Remote Workforce

business unusual

We are all navigating in a strange new world with the news changing from day-to-day.  We’ve all had to be nimble and flexible in ways we have not expected.

In a meeting I was in this morning, we were asked what we’ve learned with our team working remotely.  My team is comprised of 3 different departments.  Two are working from home and one is onsite right now.  It has been different, but it has worked.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned from having a remote workforce:

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

  • We are not setting up a lot of meetings, but we do have the option of using Skype for Business.  It has worked as we use it.
  • I’ve asked my leadership to communicate when:
    • a process is changing
    • a procedure is changing,
    • when they need help, etc.
  • Missing the face-to-face interactions, we need to become very clear in our emails, instant messaging.  Keep it simple and focused.
  • Pick up the phone and call to avoid miscommunication that can at times happen in an email.

Get closer.

  • I have been reaching out to individual team members to check on them and their families, find out how remote is working for them, their challenges and how I can help.
  • I send notes and tell team members more than ever how much I appreciate them.
    • I visit our call center and “remote” team in another building to check in on them. I say “Thank you” a lot these days.  Note to self:  when this craziness is over, don’t stop saying “thank you” often.

Working remotely works.

  • Introverts love it.  Extroverts miss their team.
  • But this has worked.  It’s different, but it can work.
  • Collaboration between workers and IT has been critical in making this happen in a secure fashion.

 

I’ve shared with my team that right now, it’s not business as usual, but it’s business unusual.  And we are up to the task.

 

What have you learned?

Building Your Company’s Culture in the Moment

Scenario: You witness a situation at work and it is clearly evident that this will lead to a culture-killer for your company.  What do you do?

Most people do one of 3 things:

1. DO NOTHING.  Look the other way.  Ignore what you’re seeing, hearing, and feeling.

2. JOIN IN.  This is the mob mentality.  “A riot is an ugly thing…I think it’s high time we have one!” (Young Frankenstein). This only fuels the fires of negativity.

3. PROMOTE, PRACTICE, and PROTECT the culture.

in the moment

Easy. It’s just as easy to not act as it is to act.  Just like losing weight or exercising or reading or being intentional in a relationship….it’s easy to do something and it’s not easy to do something

 

Fear.  We fear taking a stand.  We fear retribution from our peers (“who does he think he is?!”)

Deflection. “It’s not my job.  I’m not a manager, VP, CEO…”

Since when is protecting our culture the sole responsibility of a supervisor?

hey

 

Self-worth“Who am I to say something/take a stand?”

Too many times, we don’t take a stand because of what we say to ourselves.

  • “I’m just a line worker/entry-level accountant/etc.  I have no authority.”
  • “People will make fun or treat me differently.  I don’t want to risk that.”
  • “I’ve only been with the company for 6 months.  I don’t know enough to speak up.”
  • “I’m an idiot.  I should shut up.”

Please realize that there are people who applied for your position and did not get it.    YOU are in!  YOU made it.  YOU are worthy!  Your company believes in YOU.

But in order for your company’s culture to grow and be cultivated, each team member has to make the right decision at those critical moments.

  • And every time you and I stand up to PROMOTE, PRACTICE, AND PROTECT our culture, we build momentum.
  • And when momentum builds, it becomes the norm.
  • We raise our standards.
  • We don’t settle.
  • We refuse to live to the lowest common denominator.
  • The culture becomes alive.
  • WE become the culture.

 

protect your culture

Don’t Tell Them

I have been leading people for over 30 years now.  I am passionate about it.  I love to see my teams succeed.  I love to watch them learn and grow and get results.  I love being a part of that process.

But I have to be honest.  In my exuberance, I sometimes “take over” situations.  I see the issue.  I understand the fix. I just do it or I tell someone to go do it.

And that’s not helpful.

I am continually learning to stop telling them to do something.  Instead, I challenge them to find the answer, the solution, the remedy.  Why?

When they are tasked with figuring something out, they will learn more, connect more dots, and be able to act on this new information more clearly in the future.  And their resolution may be far better than what I think it should have been.

I love my team.  I love to get involved.  But I continue to have to remind myself to challenge them to think and act vs me simply telling them what to do.

Train your team.  Provide them feedback along the way.  Listen to them.  And give them opportunities to grow.

challenges

One Step

When most of us think of transformation, we think of dramatic, significant change that takes place on a large scale. But that really isn’t the case.

Transformation is best made one small step at a time that moves you towards your goal. And I think there in lies the problem for many people.

We live in a day and age where the dramatic is valued. And without dramatic change happening in a relatively small timeframe, most people give up on transformation because the small steps many times go unnoticed.

Let’s face it, small steps done on a daily basis can sometimes be boring. It can seem as though we are not truly making any progress. But the facts don’t support that thought.

Right now there are Olympic athletes preparing for both winter and summer events. They don’t just simply get off the plane and go out and win gold. No, today they take multiple small steps towards the goal of winning gold. They practice. They condition. They work on their thought process. Multiple upon multiple of small steps are involved in getting them towards their gold medal.

So if you are working on transformation, do not be discouraged. It is in the small daily steps that you will truly transform your life, your health, and your business. Be intentional. Be disciplined. And realize those small steps will move you toward your ultimate goal of success.

The 12 Week Year – Getting More Done

12 week year

At the prompting of a mentor of mine, Karl LaPan (CEO of the NIIC here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, last week I bought and started reading The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran.  If you are wanting to become more efficient and get more done in business and in life, buy this book.  I’ve provided the Amazon link above. It is excellent.  Here are some excerpts that are causing me to think and act differently:

 

 

 

“Most of us have two lives:  the lives we live and the lives we are capable of living.”

 

“The barrier standing between you and life you are capable of living is a lack of consistent execution.”

 

“Vision is the starting point of all high performance.  You create things twice; first mentally, then physically.  You will never outpace your mental models.”

 

“To be truly effective, your daily activity must align with your long-term vision, strategies, and tactics.  Your results are created by your actions.”

 

“A study conducted a few years ago by Salary.com found that the average person wastes nearly two hours of every working day.”

 

“Accountability is not consequences but ownership.  The only things you control are your thinking and your actions.”

 

“…the difference between greatness and mediocrity on a daily and weekly basis is slim, yet the difference in results down the road is tremendous.”

 

“…you can be great, beginning today, simply by choosing to do the things you know you need to do.”