Guided Insights

Getting Hybrid Right Takes Curiosity, Openness, Thoughtful Deliberation and (Lots of) Change Management

“My advice for senior leaders who are moving to a hybrid model: Don’t do it in a vacuum. These are decisions that can’t be unilaterally decided in an executive boardroom. Once you’ve made your decisions, don’t underestimate the level of change management required. You need to build your coalitions and communicate ad nauseam. It’s one …

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Practical Steps for Creating a Team Communications Map that Everyone Embraces

“Why did we have to wait until our weekly team meeting to discover that three people couldn’t deliver on time? If we’d known earlier, maybe we could have done something about it. Now we’re looking at a two-week delay, minimum. We have to find a better way to communicate important stuff outside of our team …

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Create a Sense of Community with Questions That Connect

“Let’s go around the room and have everyone share a fun fact.” You cringe as you wait your turn, wondering which fact you can use that: You have not already used the dozens of times someone has asked this same question Is intriguing but not intimate Is interesting but not shocking You’re just glad you …

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Why Culture Must Transcend Work Location for Healthy, High-Performing Teams

Dear Senior Leaders, To be blunt, I’m weary of hearing you say that your organizational culture will somehow be lost or diluted if you move to a permanent virtual/hybrid model. I’d really like to know what you really mean by “culture” and how you see it reflected across your organization. Maybe you’re envisioning: The updated …

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Leadership Tips for Retaining Top Talent During a Time of Turbulence

For this edition of Communique, I invited my long-time colleague, the senior talent management professional of an international healthcare company, to reflect on why 2022 has been so messy and to advise leaders about how they can best stabilize, motivate energize and retain their top talent as we all prepare for yet another year of turbulence. Many …

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Everyone’s Feeling Stressed, and Here’s Why

July can be a great time to reflect on how far we’ve come and the progress we’ve made during the first six months of the year. For this Communique, I’m reporting on trends I’m seeing in terms when it comes to how well (or not) organizations are making the move to a remote/hybrid world. Spoiler alert: While …

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Stop Agonizing Over Tough Decisions to Save Your Sanity (and Maybe Even Your Pup!)

I came this close (holding thumb and index finger ¼” apart) to returning our pup, Honey, just three days after we adopted her from a shelter a year ago today. (And believe me, I am no novice when it comes to raising dogs from puppyhood. Honey is my fourth.) So why did I feel that adopting this little …

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We Really, Really Need to Talk

Like many of you, I was gutted when I heard the news about the massacre at Robb Elementary School this week. My mind went completely numb. I had trouble putting one step in front of the other. I could find no words to convey my horror, anger and profound sadness. Despite the number of school …

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Tips for Creating a Remote-first Workplace to Make Life Easier for Everyone

Let’s face it. Designing and implementing a high-performing hybrid workplace isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, it can be one of the hardest things a leader will ever do. It can be so confounding that some organizations initially announcing a move to hybrid are backpedaling, despite the almost-certain loss of employees and even …

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Maintaining True Equity in a Virtual/Hybrid World

In announcing a new hybrid work policy, the senior leaders of this mid-sized financial services company promised that “all people, regardless of work location, will be treated equitably.” All 250+ headquarters employees were offered some degree of flexibility, with the details to be hammered out with supervisors. About one-third of the employees opted to return …

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When There’s No Going Back, Decide How to Move Forward

“When the dust finally settles…” “As soon as we get back to normal…” When we hear comments like these from our wishful-thinking clients, we tell them that try as they might, there’s no going back. There’s no such thing as “normal” anymore (and we’re pretty sure there won’t ever be anything resembling a static workplace …

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11 Tips for Avoiding the Toxicity of Relentless Positivity

When Sue confessed to being anxious about the impending project deadline, her manager dismissed her concerns, assuring her that he just knew that Sue would find a way to pull through – she always did! John was still having a hard time putting one foot in front of another six months after a painful break-up. …

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Restoring Lost Connections in a Virtual World

“My team has gotten a lot tighter since the start of the pandemic,” my client Zoe recently told me. “Our weekly meetings are super-productive, and we’re constantly Slack-chatting back and forth throughout the week. In fact, since we went remote, we’ve learned more about each other’s lives than we probably ever could have if we …

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To get people really talking, try these scripts

Kendra, the leader of a cross-functional team working on a highly visible and critical company project, imagined that things were going pretty well for her virtual team. People seemed to have few complaints or disagreements, and the work was getting done, but just barely. But about six months into the project, Kendra noticed that people …

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Speaking up against microaggressions: Why it’s worth the risk

Be honest. Would you speak up in any of these situations? Your manager tells you that the 45-year-old employee you recommended for the next leadership development cohort isn’t the right fit because they’re looking for “a different demographic.” The only person of color on your team is frequently praised as being “really articulate,” a phrase rarely, if ever, …

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Active listening: Your influential superpower in a virtual world

“When I mentioned that I had to spend most of the weekend – again – working to meet these impossible project deadlines, my boss simply thanked me for my efforts and moved on. How could he not see how utterly depleted I feel? He’s never once asked if I’m okay.” “My manager asked me to …

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Making Asymmetrical Meetings Work for Everyone

Have you ever struggled to be heard in a meeting when almost everyone else is sitting together in a conference room, and you and a few others are joining from far away? Or maybe you’ve been sitting around a table trying to have a conversation with people around you, and you have to remember to …

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What is “Business as Usual” Costing Your Organization?

Gone are the days when employers claim that employees should be “just happy to have a job.” If anything, today it’s pretty much the reverse for many organizations: Employers are relieved to find someone willing to accept an open position. This labor shortage is by no means limited to the service industry, where many former …

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Tips for creating win-win solutions virtually – Resolving conflicts when you can’t see eye to eye

Laura hasn’t gotten much sleep ever since she announced that all employees returning to the office next month must show proof of vaccination. A CEO of a mid-sized environmental engineering services firm, Laura had spent days vetting this decision with her corporate counsel, ensuring that such a mandate was legal. (It is, according to the …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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

Ever been in a virtual meeting when someone completely dominates the conversation, refusing to pause long enough for anyone else to say a word? Or when someone steers the conversation down an achingly long path that’s completely off-topic? Or when a person is so distracted that they keep asking to repeat the question? And of …

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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 …

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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 »

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