Newsletter: Essential communication and collaboration skills for virtual teams

Creating, Restoring Lost Connections in a Hybrid World

The new employee roaming empty halls eager to find someone – anyone—to talk to The CEO who publicly boasts about inclusion before dismantling the DEI team The employee whose manager cancels their 1:1 meetings The team whose members constantly can’t agree on their primary communications channel The remote worker who’s always left out of important […]

Stop Letting Bad Behavior Derail Your Next Meeting

“Our meetings have gone off the rails. No one seems to know how to rein in the loudmouths or to get the quiet people talking. Pretty much everyone leaves our meetings feeling frustrated, mad and really deflated. We need help!” If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. I get emails and posts like this almost […]

How shared principles finally got a leadership team unstuck

Senior leaders from a family-run Boston-area insurance company were frustrated that their 90+ corporate employees were refusing to return to the office full time. “We want to get back to being a family, just like we were before COVID,” they said. Employees and department managers saw it differently. “We’ve proven that we can be even […]

How a Growing Pharma Blends Asynch, Real-time Communications to Boost Productivity

This is one of a series of Field Spotlights where I share experiences, tips and observations from company leaders who are fully immersed in the transformation to hybrid. “In the last few years, we’ve acquired three other companies whose products complement ours. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve had to integrate certain operations without being able to […]

If you really want to be inclusive, here’s how to walk the talk

“Employees tell us that we’re not doing a great job when it comes to creating an inclusive workplace. Is this something you can help us with?” (Chief Human Resources Officer) “What does inclusive mean in this context, and why is it important to people?” (Us) “I suppose they mean they want us to treat everyone […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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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