Newsletter: Leading effective virtual teams

(Free) Gifts that Keep on Giving Year-Round, at Work or Home

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill “No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank Each year, members of my (very large, extended) family vow to cut back on holiday gifts. (“Let’s do a Secret Santa! Or “Hey, how about a Yankee Swap?”) […]

Why Coaches Make the Best Leaders in a Hybrid World

The cafeteria on the 9th floor is mostly empty as James and Ceci plunk down their trays at a table near the window, out of earshot. They began on the same day six months ago, both newly-minted grads starting their careers in the company’s corporate marketing department, working for different managers. As new employees, they’ve been […]

What Today’s Managers Really Need to Succeed in a Hybrid World

Every day brings new fires Amy has to put out. Yesterday it was yet another corporate policy calling for mandatory office time, prompting employees to ping her throughout the day. Earlier today, two of her top employees let her know they’re thinking about leaving. And she positively dreads her all-hands meeting tomorrow, when she’ll have […]

Why advancement, growth and visibility shouldn’t depend on work location

“If you don’t work at the Mothership, you’ll never get ahead. That’s how I see it.” The “Mothership” in this case was the gleaming new HQ building outside of Boston where hundreds of corporate staff members for this growing software company came to work each day. The HQ campus had everything an employee could ever […]

Expanding and diversifying the talent pool, cultivating connections in a hybrid world

This is one of a series of Field Spotlight Communiques where company leaders who are fully immersed in the transformation to hybrid share tips and observations. For this issue, we interviewed two senior leaders. I’ve highlighted some comments that I felt are especially noteworthy. “My manager wants coming into the office to be a ‘pull,’ something people […]

If you want employees to be more productive, let them choose where to work

This article is part of a series of Field Spotlight Communiques where I share tips and observations from company leaders who are fully immersed in the transformation to hybrid, including a wide range of companies and industries, including pharmaceuticals, software companies, nonprofits and engineering firms. “Our company’s motto is: Our purpose is people, workforce and […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

20 Questions to Help Hybrid Teams Reduce Anxiety, Start Off Strong in 2022

After the trauma of 2020, many of us were hoping that 2021 would be a banner year by comparison. Vaccines had become widely available by early spring, people could once again socialize almost anywhere, live entertainment venues opened up their doors, people started traveling, schools were back in session, and many organizations were starting to […]

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 […]

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 […]

Moving from Ideas to Action in a Virtual World

You’re excited about the stunningly creative ideas your team has spawned ever since you’ve begun to include a brainstorming segment into every (virtual) team meeting. In fact, your team has generated about six months’ worth of great ideas just waiting to be implemented. And they’ll keep on waiting, and waiting and waiting — until you […]

How to Create Opportunities for More Aha! Moments, for Yourself and Your Team

When young Isaac Newton settled into a Lincolnshire garden to rest almost 400 years ago, he could not have predicted that the mere dropping of an apple from a nearby tree would give him the bolt of brilliant insight he needed to devise the formula for gravity. And nor could young Einstein have imagined that […]

12 Tips for Building Trusting Relationships Across Your Virtual Team

“My team members just don’t seem to trust each other. You can hear the animosity and frustration in their voices when they decide to talk. I detect passive-aggressiveness in almost every comment. All day long, I’m getting emails and private IMs about how this one is constantly missing deadlines, or how that one never seems […]

How Timeshifting Truly Transformed a Top-Performing Virtual Team

I had never met a soul who has flat-out nailed the art and science of leading really great virtual teams. Until now. Meet my friend Don Wynes, Director of Implementation Operations at ADP, who has been leading a team of seven high-performing innovation coaches for about a year, with members scattered across four time zones in […]

Managing Performance from Afar Made Easier: 10 Tips for a Happier Outcome

It can be awkward to give someone tough feedback when they’re miles away. And that’s the least of it. Without visual cues, the delivery of even the most well-meaning and thoughtful performance feedback can have the opposite effect. It can damage relationships, erode trust, sap motivation, and in reality, it can actually weaken performance, instead […]

It’s What People Aren’t Saying That Leaders Most Need to Hear

We’ve seen many leaders win promotions simply because they excel at managing upwards. You know the type: They grab the plum projects for themselves, doling out the routine work to others. Since they want to demonstrate their effectiveness to their managers, they pressure team members to achieve performance targets at any cost. They spend little […]

Stop Playing Favorites for a Stronger (Virtual) Team

Most sports coaches say that one of the hardest parts of their job is to coax the best from each player. But when some players are bigger, stronger or faster than their teammates, leveling the playing field becomes a lot tougher. When the pressure is on, it’s tempting to put your best players on the […]

Leading remote teams: Influencing without authority

Q: A middle-manager for a large global corporation tells us: I’ve been asked to lead a highly-visible project that requires extraordinary cooperation from team members across all functions and many regions. Trouble is, I don’t know any of them well, and I have no direct authority over their work. To be honest, I question how […]

Hello, Goodbye: Maintaining momentum when team members come and go

  Let’s face it: No project lasts forever, and no team will live on indefinitely without some change in membership. As more organizations pull together ad hoc teams to get important work done, membership is likely to ebb and flow as certain skills and experience are most needed, even when the life of the team […]

Mentoring From Afar – Go the Distance To Grow Top Talent

Your organization is lucky to have retained some extraordinary talent despite the best efforts of your top competitors to lure them away. Among these key employees are a few dozen freshly minted MBAs and several mid-level managers who have been hand- picked to take on senior positions once the current crop of baby boomer executives […]

Six Management Practices That Don’t Cut It in a Virtual World

Do you think that just because you’re a successful manager of traditional teams that you’ll automatically be a hotshot manager in the virtual world? Maybe not. In fact, it’s often those managers who assume their leadership skills are eminently transportable to a virtual team are those who struggle the most. Why? They haven’t taken the […]

Coalescing a New Team – Creating Ties That Bind

Maybe you’ve inherited new team members from another group within your company as a result of recent reorganization. Or perhaps your company has merged with another, giving you a whole new group to manage. Whatever the reason, you need to pull a new team together, including people who have been working together all along and […]

Cultivating Trust from Afar in Tough Times

Today’s astonishing economic situation affects virtually every working individual around the globe. As organizations are forced to make drastic cuts and other difficult changes to remain viable, the need for competent, credible, trustworthy leaders has never been greater. At the same time, the very nature of our global economic collapse has bred deep distrust for […]

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