Guided Insights

Building Trust Within Virtual Teams – Small Steps Add Up

When we ask clients to name the toughest challenge associated with leading virtual teams, there is one answer that always pops to the top of the list: Building trust. Or in some cases, it’s re-building trust. Building trust is hard for any team, but it is especially hard for virtual teams, whose members have few …

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For High Impact Global Communications, One Size Never Fits All

You’re poised to launch a Big Change that will rock the world of everyone across your organization, around the world. You’ve spent weeks with C-level execs, Marketing, HR and Legal to hammer out a set of crisp, consistent messages. After weeks of haggling, everyone has finally signed off. At last, you have sent the key …

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Overcoming Time and Distance to Stay Connected, Engaged and Energized

In a world where what was blindly fast is now excruciatingly slow, what was private is now all-too-public, and where meaningful discussions have given way to a stream of 280-character exchanges, a feeling of disconnection has become rampant across the workplace. Despite the proliferation of devices that tether us to others at any time, from …

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Virtual Meetings: Design for Worst-Case Scenarios for Best Outcomes

Normally, I ascribe to the 80/20 rule when it comes to planning meetings or designing training. That is, I know I can’t possibly predict every single situation that might arise, so I do my best to anticipate what I think will happen 80% of the time for 80% of the participants. As far as the …

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Successful Virtual Collaboration Takes a Lot More Than Just the Right Tools

Your organization has finally gotten wise to the fact that employees need more than just email, a smart phone and a group website to work with their colleagues across the world, or even just down the hall. IT has just unveiled an array of exciting new collaboration tools with great fanfare, complete with training and …

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How to Tilt the Work-Life Balance in your Favor in a 24×7 World

Is achieving “work-life balance” really possible in an always-on, constantly connected world? When telecommuting and flextime were introduced, the thinking was that busy professionals could adjust their working hours to accommodate other important aspects of their lives. (“It’s great – I can coach my kids’ soccer games and then hop onto my late-night con calls.”) …

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10 Easy Ways to Disengage Your Virtual Team

I’m in the midst of rolling out a new virtual leadership series for a client. We start every series by exploring the three building blocks of successful virtual team leadership (literally, the ABC’s): Accelerating Trust, Building Social Capital and Creating a Level Playing Field. One major challenge comes up in every conversation: How to keep …

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6 Essential Guidelines for Making Better Decisions, Virtually

Let’s face it. We’ve all made some pretty poor decisions. Sometimes it’s because we feel we have to keep moving, in any direction. Other times we just don’t want to have to think too hard, so we make the choice that requires the least scrutiny. When we make a bad decision that has fairly minor …

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How Virtual Leaders Can Help Others Thrive in a World of Complexity

Consider this: Today’s companies set themselves up to six times more performance metrics than they did 50 years ago. Top leaders committed to just four to seven performance imperatives; today, CEOs commit to somewhere between 25 and 40. According to Yves Morieux of the Boston Consulting Group, author of a recent Harvard Business Review article, …

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Balance Innovation and Expediency for a Supercharged Team

How many emails can I write while “participating” in a weekly review meeting? Which ideas can I repurpose so I don’t have think of new ones? How many calls can I avoid by blasting a group IM? How many minutes can I save by outsourcing dinner prep to the local pizza joint? Yup, for many …

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Untangle your Virtual Team with 10 Most-Needed Norms

Precious few virtual teams have explicit team norms, even for aspects of teamwork where the absence of shared norms can really trip a team up. Excuses include: “When would we have time to talk this through?” “Everyone pretty much knows how we need to work.” “We’re too busy.” And my favorite: “It’s too late to …

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Rewarding, Recognizing and Celebrating Achievements from Afar

How do you celebrate a major milestone? Maybe you call the troops together to share a pizza, or bring in a jug of coffee and a platter of decadent donuts. Better yet, you might treat your hard-working team to lunch or dinner. And if it’s a moment worthy of a special celebration, you might throw …

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You’d Be a Great (Virtual) Communicator If Only You Could Just Be Quiet

Quick: What’s the #1 skill successful virtual leaders must have, which is usually hardest for them to cultivate? If you said “listening,” you’d be right. Why it’s so important is pretty obvious. Virtual leaders must learn to listen for and interpret an enormous amount of information, within seconds, without benefit of body language or eye …

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From Bland and Boring to Captivating and Compelling

  Even the most experienced team leaders can make us weep with boredom. They torture us with their monotone narrations of 10-Mb slide decks. They regale us with irrelevant minutiae, while sidestepping the really important stuff. Their meetings are more like monologues, with everyone else listening from the sidelines. And for the most part, they …

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When Workloads Are Seriously Out of Whack – 11 Leadership Tips

Say you’re the leader of a team of hard-working professionals who work in different locations. It’s crunch time, and pretty much everyone realizes they need to put aside their personal lives for the next few days (or maybe a tad longer) to meet a critical deadline. Trouble is, you discover that while some people are …

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Who Moved My (Virtual) Water Cooler?

When’s the last time you bumped into a colleague unexpectedly in the hallway and after a brief chat, came away with a brilliant solution to a problem that’s been vexing you for weeks? If you’re part of a virtual team, it’s probably been awhile. Even in the largest global organizations, few virtual teams have regular …

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11 Expert Tips for Crossing the Cultural Chasm

Why are native English speakers often the worst communicators on a global team, even though English is the only language used by all? What are people from different cultures really saying when they’re not saying anything? How can a team culture trump national differences? Native English speakers don’t actually know how to speak and write …

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Structuring Successful Virtual Meetings: A Counterintuitive Approach

Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do to run a great virtual meeting is to use the exact same structures and techniques that we use for face-to-face (FTF) meetings? Great for the meeting leader, maybe, but not so great for the meeting participants who have to muster every ounce of energy to …

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9 Ways to Get (and Stay) Virtually Connected on a New Job

So, you’re starting a new job. Or maybe you’ve just joined a team that’s taking on a new long-term project. You’re eager to hit the ground running. Naturally, you want to make a great first impression on your new manager by demonstrating your skills, knowledge, and dazzling personality. You also want to get a quick …

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10 Top Tips for Leading Great Lessons Learned Reviews in a Virtual World

When run well, a lessons learned review can yield big benefits. It’s a great way for team members to discuss how they can capitalize on what they did well so they can do more of it, and to agree on what needs to change for next time. When results are shared beyond the team, lessons …

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Tapping the Quiet Power of Introverts in a Virtual World

Think about it: There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. And yet, according to Susan Cain, author of the groundbreaking book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, our society is overwhelmingly biased toward extroverts. This bias is glaringly obvious in our workplace, where …

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8 Great Year-Round (Free!) Gifts Everyone on Your Team is Guaranteed to Love

Give a gift every day for 29 days straight? Yeah, right – as if I have the time (and money), with everything I’m already juggling! But that’s what a colleague just invited her friends to do. When she explained that such gifts can be as simple as starting a conversation with a downtrodden stranger, making …

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Building Trust Calls for Different Approaches Across Different Cultures

Celia, Ben’s new team leader in Milan, seemed completely committed to delivering a crucial marketing plan on time when they spoke earlier this week. Trouble is, she hasn’t. So far, Ben has sent two “friendly” emails, and just now he sent Celia an IM “just to see where we are.” Celia’s tone has become increasingly …

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How a Simple Storyboard Helps Command Attention and Get Results (Virtually)

Picture this: You’ve put hours of work into finalizing your recommendations for next week’s executive team meeting where the fate of your project (and perhaps your job!) will be determined. You have no more than 60 minutes to present and discuss some radical ideas about how to reallocate project resources. You’re convinced that you’ve developed …

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Draw Lines in the Sand to Jumpstart Virtual Team

Virtual teams are hard to see. That’s why the boundaries that define the scope, accountabilities, roles, reporting relationships, tasks and deliverables can be pretty tough to grasp. That is, if they exist at all. Why? Some teams simply assume that everyone has a shared understanding of the big picture. If that’s true, the thinking goes, …

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Nine Hidden Assumptions That Can Kill (Virtual) Collaboration

Manager: “Look, I know I said you could work from wherever you wanted, as long as you got the job done. And yes, I appreciate that you’ve arranged your entire schedule accordingly. Of course, you’re doing a great job! (Well, at least I think you are.) It’s just that the leadership around here believes that …

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Brainstorming across borders: How to stimulate creative thinking from afar

Q: A marketing manager tell us: We’re under tremendous pressure to churn out hundreds of deliverables each month. But at the same time we’re asked to come up with some really “out-of-the-box” thinking. Productive brainstorming sessions take time, something we have precious little of. And even if we had the time, our team is far-flung, …

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Nine Hidden Assumptions That Can Kill (Virtual) Collaboration

Manager: “Look, I know I said you could work from wherever you wanted, as long as you got the job done. And yes, I appreciate that you’ve arranged your entire schedule accordingly. Of course, you’re doing a great job! (Well, at least I think you are.) It’s just that the leadership around here believes that …

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Speaking the Truth Not Always Easy in a Virtual World

If I ask you if these pants make me look fat, your face seems to say that I look like a whale, despite your verbal assurance that I look just fine. I really can’t tell if you are trying to spare my feelings or avoid my wrath, or whether I really do look pretty svelte. …

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