Guided Insights

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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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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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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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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How to Help Remote Colleagues Feel Less Lonely and More Connected

Some people just light right up when the holidays come around. They love hunting for that perfect gift, the wrapping, decorating, baking, holiday parties, music, and all of the other traditions that come with the holidays. But for those who feel socially isolated, the holidays can be an especially difficult and lonely time.   That’s …

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How to Win Friends and Influence People When You’re Invisible

Most people I know who work remotely wouldn’t have it any other way. The commute is great, work hours are flexible, they have fewer interruptions and more privacy, they can listen to their own playlist music anytime they want, and the dress code is pretty lax, just to name a few reasons. But working remotely, …

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When Collaboration Becomes Way Too Much of a Good Thing

We’re sold on the benefits of team collaboration, at least in theory: Many heads are better than one. Diverse perspectives lead to better ideas. Cross-pollinating knowledge and lessons learned make us all smarter. Many hands make light work. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And so on. But sometimes (some would argue too much of …

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Wait! Was that Supposed to be Funny?! Depends!

It took many emails, phone calls and personal visits to establish my credibility with this group of senior managers who had gathered in our Hong Kong office for a carefully-orchestrated strategic planning meeting. But all of that changed in an instant with one inappropriate, poorly-timed joke by my manager who had insisted on kicking off …

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Could You Be the Weak Link on Your Virtual Team?

Do you ever wonder: Why should I work so hard when everyone else seems to be working part-time (at best)? Since everyone else runs late on their commitments, I may as well, too. No one takes my requests seriously, so I have stopped asking.  How can people expect me to stay awake during team meetings …

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Stop Squandering Time With All Talk and No Action

True or false: If a meeting ends with no actions, you didn’t really need the meeting in the first place.  My vote: Mostly true. Although some meetings may be held simply to cross-pollinate information or brainstorm new ideas, the goal of most meetings is to get something concrete accomplished. A resulting list of actions is …

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Instantly Improve Your Team Communications by Overturning 9 Dangerous Myths

We’ve all indulged in magical thinking. Why else would so many people rush to buy tickets when the Powerball jackpot swells to $400M, even though their chances of winning are dramatically slimmer? How many people believe that if they lose that last 5 pounds, the person of their dreams will magically sweep them off their …

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Tackling Tough Issues Remotely, When Your Boss is the Problem

We hear a lot about how virtual leaders can deal effectively with workplace conflicts and performance problems. (In fact, many people have written books on the topic, including me!) But we don’t hear nearly as much about how to confront tough issues from the remote worker’s point of view. And that’s precisely what Sue Shellenbarger, …

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Fire Up Your Communications Mojo in a Virtual World

John has always been great at playing to the crowd. With just a subtle arch of his eyebrow or a sly half-smile, John can bring the house down or rev people up. He’s a communications superstar who knows exactly what every audience needs to hear and delivers it perfectly. John is justifiably proud of his …

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Just Because You’re Silent, You May Not Be Really Listening

Chances are, you probably think you’re a pretty good listener. Most of us do. We aren’t the type to interrupt our colleagues, trounce on someone else’s ideas, or whip out a mobile device in the midst of a conversation (at least not in plain view!). So we must be good listeners, right? Well, maybe not. …

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7 Ways to Keep Stakeholders Close in a Virtual World

Maybe it’s a complete system replacement, a complicated reporting structure or a new business process. Whatever the change your organization is rolling out, dozens  (if not thousands) of lives may be upended. You know that to make sure everything goes smoothly, you must reach out to those most affected by the change. Trouble is, most …

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7 Tips for Avoiding Another Epic (Project) Fail

I really hate it when one of my projects doesn’t exactly go as planned. Happily, this rarely happens, so when it does, I tend to obsess over it, replaying the events ad infinitum. When a recent project seemed to fall short of expectations, I devoted countless hours (okay, maybe a few days) to understanding what …

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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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Networking in a virtual world an essential skill for success

-By Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights and Patti Anklam, Hutchinson Associates Finding the right connections to help you do your job, or to grow into the next one, requires a significant investment of time and effort even when you know all of the right players. But when you’re part of virtual organization, effective networking can be …

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Real-time conversations crucial for networking in a virtual world

By Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights and Patti Anklam, Hutchinson Associates This issue of Communiqué focuses on planning and facilitating conversations most likely to help you cultivate mutually-rewarding relationships. We also discuss ways to follow up to keep both parties engaged and interested in moving forward together. In this issue, we refer primarily to voice-to-voice conversations, …

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Ten must-know email tips for teams to make an impact and get results

By Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights and Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts, Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts & Associates Are you having trouble keeping up with the fusillade of emails your team members churn out each day? Are you wondering why team members don’t respond to your messages or if they even read them? Email is the cornerstone of communications for most …

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Get and Give What You Bargained for With Clear Agreements That Make Sense

Setting false deadlines has become as chronic as breaking them, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Managers might get away with this practice once or twice, but when team members finally catch on, chances are they won’t fall for it again. And worse, they’re more likely to ignore authentic deadlines when …

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Get New Team Members Up To Speed Quickly

You’ve been asked to contribute your subject matter expertise as part of a team collaborating on high- stakes project. While most team members work with the client face-to-face, you and a few others work three time zones away. You’re uncomfortably aware that your work is on the critical path. Just as you’re about to turn …

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