Go, Leader, Grow!

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 team 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 communication 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?

TRANSFORMATION in 2020 by Jim Johnson

We are fast approaching 2020.  Many of us are looking ahead and formulating new goals and direction.  Resolutions will be made.  Later they will be broken.

What causes us to do this year after year? And when so many of us fail to follow through?

  • Lack of discipline?
  • Incorrect goals?
  • This is more than wishful thinking?

Why do we even set goals for ourselves?

  • To feel better about ourselves?
  • To make others value us more?
  • Societal pressure?
  • Advertising pressure?

Let’s look at health goals.  Millions of people right now are thinking about their health goals for 2020.  Losing weight.  Eating healthy foods.  Exercise. Reduce medication.  Those are all great and noble goals.

But for millions, these goals will be a fading thought very early in the year.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 percent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February.

People will lose the desire to do what it takes to meet their goals.  A warm cinnamon roll on a frigid February morning will win the day, and the slippery slope from that fresh baked goodness will loom large.  Within days, health goals can be obliterated.  “Oh, well, next year.”

Look back on your life 1 year ago.  Reflect on this:

  • How am I healthier today?
  • How have I grown as a person, parent, spouse, leader in the past year?
  • How has my spiritual life developed?
  • How has my financial wellness improved?

“Well, ummm, I guess I’m really the same as I was back then.  Actually, I’ve been this way for years.”

See, becoming better is not simply a matter of desire.  Who doesn’t want to become healthier?  More in tune spiritually?  A better mom/dad/person?  More secure financially?

We all do.

So what’s missing when we set goals and resolutions yet fail to follow-through so quickly?

What we need is TRANSFORMATION.

Transformation definition

Let’s break this definition down:

  • Profound – very great or intense.
  • Radical – very different from the usual, sometimes to the extreme
  • Change – not the same as before
  • New direction – turn around and head on a different path
  • More effective – results, better results, life-changing results

 

Allow me some liberty here.  When I think of TRANSFORMATION, I think of the word repentance.  When someone repents, there are 2 actions required:

  1. Turning away from something.
  2. Turning to something/someone.

To truly change your life (health, relationships, development, finances, etc.), this sense of repentance needs to be applied.

Health:  I am turning from foods that harm me.  I am turning to foods that heal.

Relationships:  I am turning from behaviors that harm others.  I am turning to behaviors that build bridges and create peace.

Finances:  I am turning from undisciplined spending.  I am turning to creating a plan to move me towards freedom.

Personal Development:  I am turning from haphazardly moving through life.  I am turning to intentional ways to grow.

Do you see the difference?

Let’s explore how TRANSFORMATION can happen in your life.  Today, it is December 21, 2019.  Think ahead to December 21, 2020.

  • How will you feel if you truly TRANSFORMED your life?
  • What kind of results would you realize?
  • How will your health, spiritual life, relationships, finances, etc. all become better as a result of TRANSFORMATION?
  • See yourself having improved these key areas of life. Visualize you being in a “profound, radically” different place.  Do you like what you see?  Doesn’t this excite you?

Fact: you can TRANSFORM your life.  You can!  In the posts to come, let’s learn and discover how TRANSFORMATION can become possible in our lives.  I need it!  I bet you do, too.

In the posts that follow, let’s learn together how we can TRANSFORM our lives.  We’ll explore the TRANSFORMATION definition, creating habits, the power of documenting your progress in a journal, accountability, the idea that TRANSFORMATION is not a one-and-done proposition…and so much more.  I’ll great resources that I’ve read/listened to  from great people.

Do you want to remain the same person you’ve been for years (decades)?  I don’t.  True change requires TRANSFORMATION.

Join me in the journey!  Let’s become better.

metamorphosis

Seek Clarity

In his new book, High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard speaks about seeking clarity in Habit 1.  I shared this exercise with my Emerging Leader group yesterday.  I thought you might like to read this as well:

  1.  Describe (write it down) how you’ve perceived yourself in the following situations over the past several months – with your significant other, at work, with the kids or your team, in social situations with strangers.
  2. Now ask, “Is that who I really see myself being in the future?”  How would my future self look, feel, and behave differently in those situations? (note: think about how your future self would want to interact in ways that you would be proud of)
  3. If you could describe yourself in just 3 aspirational words – words that would sum up who you are at your best in the future – what would those words be?  Why are those words meaningful to you?  Once you find your words, put them in your phone as an alarm label that goes off several times per day.

I worked through this exercise myself.  I jotted down several things and finally landed on my 3 aspirational words.  I created a calendar event that displays these 3 words at 5:45 am, 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm every day.

Already, there are many times when I see those words and I am reminded to be my best and do my best to act out on these words.  It works.  What a great reminder.

Try it. In fact, order the book and start working your own high performance habits (link to the book is provided above). Begin working on becoming better.  You will not regret it.

high performance habit quote

Make Today Different by Jim Johnson

How can you make today different from the routine?

* write a hand written note to someone to thank them, praise them, encourage them

* have “that conversation” you’ve been putting off

* read something that will inspire you and then share it

If you’re like me (God help you if you are), routines can overtake you.  Sometimes,  we need to do something we may normally not do to break the routine.  In this, we just might learn something new, make someone’s day, resolve an issue,  improve our teams.  

Do something differently won’t take all day. But even a slight change that takes 5 minutes can have a powerful impact on you and others. 

image

Change – why it doesn’t work by Fiona Cohn

What?!  Change doesn’t work?  Our businesses are always changing something.  Read on.  This is an enlightening post by Fiona Cohn on change.  It may open your eyes to something new.  It did for me…

agent of change

Who likes change? Really. Even people who tell me they like change behave as though they don’t when it happens. It’s a fact that most people don’t like change. I heard a joke that the only people that like change are cashiers and babies with dirty nappies!

Most of us (and I admit I’m in this group too) resist change. We like the status quo. In today’s fast changing world, things are changing all the time. Humans are amazingly resilient and able to deal with change. I bet if you look back a year to what you were doing in your business, you’re most likely doing things very differently today. Businesses and people who are willing to reinvent themselves over and over again are the ones that enjoy greater success – in business and personally. In business that means tracking your competition and doing something different. That’s the real key to business success.

Here are a few things that are likely to be holding you and your business back from making change work for you rather than against you.

People like the status quo

I’ve rarely met a person who doesn’t have ‘stability’ as one of their core values. So when we need to change something that tugs at a core value and makes us feel vulnerable. Even when the change is likely to be a dramatic improvement we still resist it.

Take the case of the QWERTY keyboard – originally designed because when typewriters were invented, fast typing would jam the keys. The QWERTY design put the most used letters on the left to slow down right handed people. It put rarely used letters in between more commonly used letters, reducing the risk of the typing arms jamming. When electric typewriters and computes came along the typing habit was so deeply ingrained, we stuck with it even though a keyboard with the most commonly used letters placed centrally would be faster, easier and more ergonomic to type with.

People focus on what they have to lose or give up

Change inevitably means stopping doing something and starting to do something differently so people perceive it as a loss rather than a gain. This is in spite of the fact that change over the long term usually results in dramatic improvements for most of us.

Take the mobile phone as an example. I resisted getting a smartphone for fear of my number being linked to all sorts of platforms so that anyone could contact me should they wish to. I didn’t want to give up that element of my privacy.

In my world, a phone was for making and receiving calls and I already had one that did that. Two years ago I relented and while I still don’t use my ‘phone to anywhere near its potential, when I lost my handset at the beginning of the year I realised how much I had been relying on it – for email, diary management, keeping my contacts up to date and using a host of apps to make my life easier. And as a business woman, I wsa grateful that people knew how to get hold of me.

People accept change differently

This means you can’t ‘sell’ the change as a ‘one size fits all’ solution. You need to help each individual see what’s in it for them.

People resist change when they don’t trust…

Read the rest here:  http://www.excelarate.co.uk/change-doesnt-work/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Conquer! by Jim Johnson

image

Last week my family and I were in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. One of the many activities we experienced was ziplining.  It was a first for every single one of our family members.

As we were preparing to head up to the zipline course, my wife and I talked about the concern we had for our youngest – my son, Karsten.  He has had a history of being afraid of trying something new – especially things that would challenge him directly.

But to our surprise, when it came time to head out on the course, Karsten stepped up to be first in line. He jumped off the first platform and flew down the zipline without any problems at all. Throughout the entire experience,  he was excited. I think he knew that he was actively conquering a fear.

I learned a lot from my 8 year old son that day. There are lots of times in life when we face new challenges and new experiences. But instead of standing petrified on a platform, many times it’s just better to jump and trust the mechanisms that you have in place and just go with it.

I told my son that he was a role model for me that day. He just smiled.

Truth be told, I think I was the one who was the most afraid of the experience. But I conquered my fear, jumped off the platform, and zipped to a new adventure.

image

Do you have a “Mother, may I?” Culture? by Jim Johnson

mother may I

 

I recently heard John Stossel make the following statement concerning government:  “when we have a “mother, may I” government, innovation and creativity dies.”  He went on to say that when people are over-burdened with regulations, fewer and fewer people will fight the current to find a better way to do business.  This got me thinking…

Do you have a “Mother, may I?” culture at your company?

  • The staff is petrified to act in the best interest of your customers because they may “get in trouble” for acting first instead of asking first.
  • Your team comes to you constantly throughout the day to get permission to act, get involved, decide on ____________.
  • You have employees who’ve been in their positions for years and they have not generated a new idea, initiative, suggestion, etc.
  • Your team waits for you – the manager, VP, CEO – to decide what to do next.  Until then, nobody moves.

In 2008, I spoke at a national credit union conference at Disney World.  One of the keynote speakers was the former CEO of Mountain America Credit Union (Utah).  In his early days, he once observed teller interactions with members in the lobby of the main branch.  He stated that at almost every interaction, the tellers excused themselves, walked over to their manager’s office and then returned and finished the transaction.  After several interactions, he walked over to one of the tellers and asked why they continued to seek out the manager.  He was told that the manager had to approve almost anything a teller did.  He soon found out that this was happening all over the credit union.

“We had created a sluggish, ineffective bureaucracy here. I set out to change it.”  He did.  The credit union’s assets more than doubled under this man’s leadership in about 12 years.  They acquired several smaller credit unions.  Their business now spans 4 states.

So here’s the question for you:  How do you change from a company of “Mother, may I?” to one that empowers its staff to think, innovate, create, and serve your customers?

I’d love to read your thoughts.  Please share them!

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