Ask these questions and take action.
Leading a Remote Workforce
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.
- 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.
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:
- Turning away from something.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
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.
Change – why it doesn’t work by Fiona Cohn
Conquer! by Jim Johnson
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.
Do you have a “Mother, may I?” Culture? by Jim Johnson
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!
Think Outside the Rut by Jim Johnson
Here in Indiana, we are praying for an early Spring. Winter has been rough this year. My neighborhood is full of ice ruts making driving difficult and unsafe. My wife even got stuck in one the other day requiring some good Samaritans to come to her rescue.
Ruts don’t get us where we need to go.
You’ve heard the expression “think outside the box”. For me, a better way to say this is “think outside the ruts” because it’s in a rut where I get caught up, stuck, needing help.
Do you find yourself in a rut? New ideas at work are hard to come by? Your work seems blah. You need a shot in the arm? It’s time to break out of that rut. But how? Try these ideas:
There are a lot of great resources available to us today that we didn’t have just a few years ago. The amount of reading free reading material is enormous. Check out the apps Flipboard and Zite. You can select topics you want some new exposure to. The apps are easy to use and are available on your smart phone and tablet.
Venture outside your expertise. Explore new worlds. Are you in a traditional business? Read about entrepreneurs. Find out how they tackle obstacles, getting a product to market, how they deal with staffing issues. Not tech-savvy? Read what is happening in the high-tech world. Learn. Grow. Become inquisitive. READ.
Broaden your network
Do you spend most of your time during your work week with your colleagues? It’s time to branch out and meet new folks. Attend a Chamber event. There are many in my community. I bet there are in yours. How about going on a business call with your outside sales folks. You can learn a lot about your department and company by doing this.
Are you on LinkedIn? You can meet a lot of great people here and you will be exposed to even more great reading and insights. I recently made a connection with a local business owner who was in the process of doing business with my company. I had the opportunity to help smooth out some rough communication and misunderstanding in this process. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t broadened my own network.
Change your perspective.
When was the last time you looked at your business through the lens of your customers? It’s difficult to do. But we can go for years thinking we are producing products customers want all the while they are slowing leaving our business and products for someone else who “gets them”.
Mystery shopping initiatives can help change your perspective. Does your company collect and monitor customer feedback? Pay attention to it! Act upon it! Let your customers know you appreciate their input!
Learn something new
Spend time with a colleague discovering what they do. You probably don’t know how what they do impacts your work (and neither do they). You can learn so much more about your work and your company by doing this. Ask a lot of questions. Ask to see the reports they review. Find more of the “story behind the numbers” while you’re with them.
Getting out of rut demands motion. Many times, you sit at your desk for hours (right?). Get up and move. Walk up and down the stairs (if you have them). At my company, we built a walking path around our campus. My CEO and I had our 1-on-1 walking this path multiple laps (when it was much warmer). Moving can clear your mind.
Get out of your rut. Get some exposure to new ideas, thoughts, and perspectives. Your mind, department, and company will thank you for it!
Leadership Resources to Review by Jim Johnson
Looking for a good resource for your leadership development? Visit this site: http://www.drkathycramer.com/
Dr. Cramer is one of the authors of an incredible book, Change the Way You See Everything.
On this site you can sign up for emails, visit her blog, find out where she will be speaking, etc. Dr. Cramer and her writing are great resources. Do yourself a favor and invest some time reviewing her work.