Guided Insights

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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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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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 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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Now That’s Radical! Build a More Collaborative, Productive Team With More (Yes, More!) Meetings

You’re sitting around the table, listening to one person after another drone on and on about topics that you find irrelevant and frankly boring, while the work you really should be doing has to wait until this interminable meeting is over. Adding to your frustration is the fact that earlier in the day, your boss blew you …

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Create a 12-Month Plan in Just Two Hours, With a Little Bit of Magic

There’s something about the start of a new year that makes it a perfect time to get your team together to lay down plans and set priorities for the next 12 months. But try getting them to hunker down in a meeting room for a couple of days when their “day jobs” are so demanding. …

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For Insightful Conversations, Learn How to Ask Great Questions

Judging from the nodding heads, you see that a deep state of ennui has settled in around the table. (And this is just 15 minutes after break!) You have three hours left of this interminable day, with lots of  ground still to cover.  You know that the usual tedious process of asking everyone to take …

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Can’t We All Just Disagree? Reviving the Lost Art of Civilized Disagreement

Imagine you’re part of a group coming together to agree on a make-or-break decision. Which of these scenarios would you prefer: 1) After an amicable (and blessedly) brief conversation, everyone easily agrees to go along with the majority or 2) A heated debate ensues, with people from opposing viewpoints passionately arguing their respective positions? If …

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Wait, What?! and 4 Other Essential Questions that Expand Thinking and Spark Conversation

If anyone appreciates the value of asking really great questions, it’s a facilitator. After all, my job is to stimulate thought, encourage reflection, generate conversation, and help people make important connections. To do this, I need at least a few essential questions to insert into the conversation at just the right time. Crafting these “perfect” …

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Make Better Decisions with Less Pain, Virtually

People across the organization are counting on your team to meet an absurd deadline that you reluctantly agreed to. It’s become apparent over the last day or two that you made a promise that you simply cannot keep. You’ve called an all-hands meeting with your virtual  team to make a critical decision: Do you let …

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Why Conversations Sometimes Feel Impossible and How to Bring Them Back

The kids in our high school were shattered when news spread last month that a popular senior took his own life.  Everyday life for these kids screeched to a halt as they struggled to process how such a tragedy could have happened to one of their own. This was the first time many experienced the …

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Combat Rude Behavior with Radical Civility

Everyone knew that Jim was a real jerk. With an arch of his brow or the curl of his lip, this senior VP could reduce anyone to tears. And he did, frequently. As a junior staff writer at the time, I was a frequent target of Jim’s scathing derision. One day I decided to confront …

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To Get People Talking, Try Asking the Right Questions

It’s happened to all of us: You pose a carefully-worded question, pause and wait for someone to respond. Anyone. Please? And then you hear nothing, other than an awkward, prolonged silence. You start to panic and make assumptions like: “They must be multitasking! Maybe they’re all on mute. I guess no one cares about this …

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Avoiding the High Cost of Ambiguous Decisions

Imagine this: You are leading your weekly team meeting, and you have just five minutes left to galvanize people around a critical decision that will affect thousands of people. After quickly summarizing the various positions, you declare that you believe the group has decided to move ahead. When you solicit final comments or concerns, not a …

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Taking the Pain Out of Consensus-Building in Virtual Meetings

“I assume that everyone is good with this proposal, since I don’t hear anyone opposed, right? Okay, next topic!”  Ah, but if this project manager could only see the body language of the people sitting around that virtual table, she would know that many people are most definitely not good with that proposal! In fact, …

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How to Prevent ‘Unfair’ Decisions from Tearing Teams Apart

Nearly everyone in town breathed a sigh of relief when our selectmen recently voted to cut off conversations with the big gaming company that had its eye on building a casino here. Those of us who had helped to create a Facebook page and online petition to mobilize the opposition felt especially pleased with the …

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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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Magic Numbers for Successful Teamwork

People often ask me: What’s the ideal number of people to have on any given team to produce the best results? My answer: It depends. Several factors go into coming up with that magic number, such as: Clarity of goals and objectives, time available to get it right, ability of participants to work face-to-face versus …

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To speed decision-making, get rid of the noise

To be, or not to be? Not all decisions are as profound as Hamlet’s, but some team decisions can be real game-changers. Making tough decisions can stress out members of any team, but when you’re working as a geographically-dispersed team, the decision-making process can be especially draining. Why?  Simply put, the decision-making process for virtual …

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6 Essential Guidelines for Making Better Decisions, Virtually

Let’s face it. We’ve all made some pretty poor decisions. Sometimes it’s because we feel we have to keep moving, in any direction. Other times we just don’t want to have to think too hard, so we make the choice that requires the least scrutiny. When we make a bad decision that has fairly minor …

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