Guided Insights

Emerging from a COVID Cocoon Without a Playbook

One of my daughters graduated from college this past weekend, and I wanted to celebrate the happy occasion in a big way. (Well, maybe not so big that people would feel uncomfortable being around so many others!) For many of us, this would be the first social gathering we’d be attending since the “before days,” and I …

Emerging from a COVID Cocoon Without a Playbook Read More »

You say you want to be more inclusive? Prove it.

Well-meaning people (yes, I am referring to myself here, too!) talk a lot about the need to be more “inclusive” when it comes to important conversations, but how many of us are really living up to our virtuous proclamations? If we were completely honest, I bet most of us would admit we could be doing much …

You say you want to be more inclusive? Prove it. Read More »

Creating a Level Playing Field Across Your Hybrid-Remote Team

A remote worker for many years, Julie resigned herself to constantly feeling slighted. Maybe it was because she always seemed to be missing vital information her office colleagues shared during impromptu meetings, or that her name never came up to lead the next big juicy project, or that she was excluded from social activities. Or …

Creating a Level Playing Field Across Your Hybrid-Remote Team Read More »

To Build Trust Within Virtual Teams, Psychological Safety Is Everything

The #1 question I’m asked by leaders and members of virtual teams alike: How can we create a trusting environment when we hardly ever (or never!) meet in person? Teams that span multiple time zones have an even harder go of it, as they have few opportunities for real conversations of any kind. Remote teams …

To Build Trust Within Virtual Teams, Psychological Safety Is Everything Read More »

Seriously, Here’s How Improv Techniques Can Liven Up Any Virtual Meeting

Can you picture yourself in any of these scenarios? You’re about to launch a virtual conversation where everyone’s perspectives are needed, and you look out to a screen full of pixelated faces that reflect skepticism, boredom, fear, frustration, or any combination. You’ve designed a virtual learning program where deep conversations are required to build needed …

Seriously, Here’s How Improv Techniques Can Liven Up Any Virtual Meeting Read More »

Virtual Strategic Planning: The Silver Lining

When news of Covid hit about eight months ago (or was it eight years ago?) many of us thought we’d be back to “normal” within a few months. Workers would be returning to offices, groups could meet again in person, and conferences and events scheduled for 2021 could go on as planned. But of course, we were …

Virtual Strategic Planning: The Silver Lining Read More »

How Inclusion and Integrity Foster More Productive Conversations, Reduce Bias in a Virtual World

This is the second in a two-part series about healthy virtual conversations, where we discuss the four discussion disciplines: Integrity, Courtesy, Inclusion and Translation. By Nancy Settle-Murphy and Kate Pugh Until several months ago, this global Sales and Marketing group was regarded as a model of a truly high-performing hybrid team, the kind others aspired …

How Inclusion and Integrity Foster More Productive Conversations, Reduce Bias in a Virtual World Read More »

Energize Your Next Virtual Meeting!

The very word “energizer” can scare some people away. (Typical responses: “Energizers? Nah, our teams hate those things.” Or “We don’t have that kind of time to waste in our meetings.” Or: “Too risky. If it backfires, I’ll be blamed.” Or, “We have a bunch of introverts. Energizers are just too painful for them.”) Now …

Energize Your Next Virtual Meeting! Read More »

To Manage Difficult Behavior in Virtual Meetings, Be Diplomatic Yet Assertive

The person who comes unprepared to every meeting and asks you to catch them up while others wait “We’re just about to dive into a conversation related to the prework I sent out last week. For anyone who didn’t have a chance to read it, I have copies here (or have pasted the URL here, …

To Manage Difficult Behavior in Virtual Meetings, Be Diplomatic Yet Assertive Read More »

Healthy Conversations Can Bring Virtual Teams Back To Life

“Look, we need to let people know ASAP when and how we can expect to return to the office. Your team is already 10 days late giving us your recommendations. You’d better figure out why you haven’t been able to move forward. Have your proposed options on my desk by Monday. Drop everything else until …

Healthy Conversations Can Bring Virtual Teams Back To Life Read More »

What Have You Learned About Your Culture During the Covid Crisis?

What have you learned about your organization’s culture over the last few months that may not have been obvious before? What policies or behaviors have shined a light on the values and beliefs of your leadership team? How do employees feel about working for your organization today, compared to the time before Covid? These are …

What Have You Learned About Your Culture During the Covid Crisis? Read More »

Virtual Meetings: Why Bother Showing Up If You’re Not Really Present?

You’re trying to pay attention to your third video meeting in a row, where your colleague is making an impassioned case for getting the team much-needed resources. Despite the fact that you’re desperate for this request to be approved, you’re struggling to focus. In part, it’s because you didn’t bother to review the documents she sent so …

Virtual Meetings: Why Bother Showing Up If You’re Not Really Present? Read More »

How Video Meetings Mess with Your Head and How to Make it Better

I could tell by the glowing yellow line that framed Amy’s video image that she was saying something. But for the life of me, I couldn’t absorb the meaning of her words, even though I could hear her just fine. Maybe it was the fact that this was the third Zoom workshop that I facilitated …

How Video Meetings Mess with Your Head and How to Make it Better Read More »

Overcoming the Painful Loss of Casual (But Vital) Connections in the Time of COVID

For the last few weeks, I’ve been working with hundreds of members and leaders who are part of suddenly-virtual teams, all trying to come to grips with the implications of the “new normal,” whatever that may come to mean. While many seem to be forging ahead without skipping a beat, many more confess to feeling a grievous …

Overcoming the Painful Loss of Casual (But Vital) Connections in the Time of COVID Read More »

Responding to the Covid-19 Crisis: Fast Learning, Decisive Action and Targeted Communications

“Alarm bells first went off back on February 2 when our senior leadership team got an email from an employee in our LA office who expressed concern about two employees returning from a trip to China. Though barely a blip in the U.S., the Coronavirus was starting to make headlines in China. We responded by …

Responding to the Covid-19 Crisis: Fast Learning, Decisive Action and Targeted Communications Read More »

When You’re Suddenly Forced to Go Virtual – An Essential Checklist

* This is a special edition of Communique to help those who must suddenly shift their face-to-face meetings, events and training sessions to a virtual space. These tips should help ease the transition.* By Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights, and Jesse Bibbee, Gazelle Interactive After months of planning, everything is finally in place for next week’s two-day meeting …

When You’re Suddenly Forced to Go Virtual – An Essential Checklist Read More »

Why Can’t Everyone Just Agree? 8 Tips for Building Consensus

The meeting room stunk of burnt coffee, half-eaten sandwiches and too many bodies compressed into a small, windowless room for too many hours. People participating via video felt that for once, being physically removed from the action was actually a blessing. After two days of dithering, this group seemed no closer to making a decision …

Why Can’t Everyone Just Agree? 8 Tips for Building Consensus Read More »

The Dangers of Empathy Unexamined

The tension in the room was palpable as people waited for the meeting to begin. Some perched on the edge of their seats silently staring ahead. Others fidgeted nervously. It was a first. More than 25 people from seven countries had gathered together in one room for this planning session, convened to determine the strategic direction …

The Dangers of Empathy Unexamined Read More »

How Asking for Help Beats Magical Thinking Every Time

It was just three nights before we were headed to NJ for our week-long Christmas vacation. As my daughter crept across the floor to her bed in darkness, she cried out: “Oh, no! I stepped in that wet spot again!” (“What wet spot? What does she mean, again?”) Maybe she’d spilled something? A roof leak from all …

How Asking for Help Beats Magical Thinking Every Time Read More »

Waffles vs. Spaghetti – Connecting Through Stories

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have as leaders to shape understanding and connect with others in a profound way. The ability to craft and tell a good story can be learned, practiced and honed over time. It is also a skill that’s vastly underused, in part because it requires intention and …

Waffles vs. Spaghetti – Connecting Through Stories Read More »

The Virtues of Failing Fast, in a Forward Direction

A friend’s daughter just announced her family’s sudden decision to pack up and move several states away, with no jobs, no residence, three school-age kids, one dog and two cats. My friend is agonizing over whether to try to talk her daughter out of it (“How will you live?  Where will you live? What about health insurance? …

The Virtues of Failing Fast, in a Forward Direction Read More »

When Things Fall Apart, Principles Can Bring Them Back Together

My daughter Kira recently lost a client due to a lack of principles. It’s not that she didn’t have principles, and nor was her client lacking principles. It’s that they had never agreed to principles up front on a vital issue. And therein lies the rub. Here’s her story: Kira recently caught a cold from a toddler …

When Things Fall Apart, Principles Can Bring Them Back Together Read More »

Ghosting Can Come Back to Haunt You – Here’s Why, and How to Avoid It

A client who’s raved about my work for years has unceremoniously stopped answering my emails. A prospective client who has promised to move forward with my proposal has suddenly cut off all communication. A colleague I’ve known for years seems to have fallen off the face of the earth. Yup, I’ve been ghosted, and I’ll …

Ghosting Can Come Back to Haunt You – Here’s Why, and How to Avoid It Read More »

How to Deliver Tough Feedback in Ways Your Boss Can Hear It

Sharon dreaded her weekly 1:1 meetings with Jan, her manager, who worked two time zones away. Since these half-hour meetings were the only time they had a chance to touch base about pressing issues, Sharon had hoped that she would get much-needed guidance and answers to tough questions to move her work ahead. But the …

How to Deliver Tough Feedback in Ways Your Boss Can Hear It Read More »

Want to Accelerate Your Remote Team’s Project? Create a Communications Ecosystem!

With a crazy deadline looming, the team could simply not afford another costly misstep. Scattered across seven timezones, team members knew that to nail the big deliverables, nothing could slip through the cracks, handoffs had to be seamless, and everyone had to be in perfect synch, 24×7. Given the time zone differences, team members couldn’t …

Want to Accelerate Your Remote Team’s Project? Create a Communications Ecosystem! Read More »

Now That’s Radical! Build a More Collaborative, Productive Team With More (Yes, More!) Meetings

You’re sitting around the table, listening to one person after another drone on and on about topics that you find irrelevant and frankly boring, while the work you really should be doing has to wait until this interminable meeting is over. Adding to your frustration is the fact that earlier in the day, your boss blew you …

Now That’s Radical! Build a More Collaborative, Productive Team With More (Yes, More!) Meetings Read More »

Unconscious Bias: Just Because You Can’t See It, Others (Almost Certainly) Can

There we were. A roomful of mostly white adults from my upper middle-class, fairly liberal Massachusetts town, gathered together in our earnest desire to discover how to be better allies to people of color. Tensions grew as the facilitators led us into uncomfortable conversations designed to help us uncover our hidden biases, layer by layer. …

Unconscious Bias: Just Because You Can’t See It, Others (Almost Certainly) Can Read More »

Easing the Pain of an Abrupt Transition, from Afar

“Congratulations! You have a unique set of skills that makes you a perfect fit for another project. So we’re ‘rewarding’ you by moving you over to another manager. This is a fabulous career move, with plenty of opportunities for growth. Of course I’m sad to see you go, but I know you’ll do great.” Such …

Easing the Pain of an Abrupt Transition, from Afar Read More »

How Feedback Can Stunt Growth, Stifle Learning and Encourage Mediocrity

Feedback of any kind rarely helps people perform better, no matter how much you dress it up and call it something pretty. In fact, telling people what they need to do differently, however well-intended, actually can block learning and prevent growth. As a result of reading the article The Feedback Fallacy in the March-April 2019 Harvard Business Review, I …

How Feedback Can Stunt Growth, Stifle Learning and Encourage Mediocrity Read More »

Daring Leaders Build Trust by Peeling Away the Armor, Choosing Courage Over Comfort

How can I build trust, quickly, across my team? That’s the #1 question I get from my clients and students. Before I read Brené Brown’s  brilliant new book, Dare to Lead, I would have hedged, insisting that there are too many variables to give just one answer. But now I realize there is one answer that seems to …

Daring Leaders Build Trust by Peeling Away the Armor, Choosing Courage Over Comfort Read More »

SUBSCRIBE TO COMMUNIQUÉ – FREE EZINE

Sign Up Today to Get Free Tips for Creating a Level Playing Field Across Your Virtual, Hybrid Team