Guided Insights

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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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 …

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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 …

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Virtual Meetings: Why Bother Showing Up If You’re Not Really Present?

You’re trying to pay attention to your third video meeting in a row, where your colleague is making an impassioned case for getting the team much-needed resources. Despite the fact that you’re desperate for this request to be approved, you’re struggling to focus. In part, it’s because you didn’t bother to review the documents she sent so …

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How Video Meetings Mess with Your Head and How to Make it Better

I could tell by the glowing yellow line that framed Amy’s video image that she was saying something. But for the life of me, I couldn’t absorb the meaning of her words, even though I could hear her just fine. Maybe it was the fact that this was the third Zoom workshop that I facilitated …

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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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Responding to the Covid-19 Crisis: Fast Learning, Decisive Action and Targeted Communications

“Alarm bells first went off back on February 2 when our senior leadership team got an email from an employee in our LA office who expressed concern about two employees returning from a trip to China. Though barely a blip in the U.S., the Coronavirus was starting to make headlines in China. We responded by …

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When You’re Suddenly Forced to Go Virtual – An Essential Checklist

* This is a special edition of Communique to help those who must suddenly shift their face-to-face meetings, events and training sessions to a virtual space. These tips should help ease the transition.* By Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights, and Jesse Bibbee, Gazelle Interactive  After months of planning, everything is finally in place for next week’s two-day meeting …

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Why Can’t Everyone Just Agree? 8 Tips for Building Consensus

The meeting room stunk of burnt coffee, half-eaten sandwiches and too many bodies compressed into a small, windowless room for too many hours. People participating via video felt that for once, being physically removed from the action was actually a blessing. After two days of dithering, this group seemed no closer to making a decision …

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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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How Asking for Help Beats Magical Thinking Every Time

It was just three nights before we were headed to NJ for our week-long Christmas vacation. As my daughter crept across the floor to her bed in darkness, she cried out: “Oh, no! I stepped in that wet spot again!” (“What wet spot? What does she mean, again?”) Maybe she’d spilled something? A roof leak from all …

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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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The Virtues of Failing Fast, in a Forward Direction

A friend’s daughter just announced her family’s sudden decision to pack up and move several states away, with no jobs, no residence, three school-age kids, one dog and two cats. My friend is agonizing over whether to try to talk her daughter out of it (“How will you live?  Where will you live? What about health insurance? …

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When Things Fall Apart, Principles Can Bring Them Back Together

My daughter Kira recently lost a client due to a lack of principles. It’s not that she didn’t have principles, and nor was her client lacking principles. It’s that they had never agreed to principles up front on a vital issue. And therein lies the rub. Here’s her story: Kira recently caught a cold from a toddler …

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