Guided Insights

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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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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To Manage Difficult Behavior in Virtual Meetings, Be Diplomatic Yet Assertive

The person who comes unprepared to every meeting and asks you to catch them up while others wait “We’re just about to dive into a conversation related to the prework I sent out last week. For anyone who didn’t have a chance to read it, I have copies here (or have pasted the URL here, …

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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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Unconscious Bias: Just Because You Can’t See It, Others (Almost Certainly) Can

There we were. A roomful of mostly white adults from my upper middle-class, fairly liberal Massachusetts town, gathered together in our earnest desire to discover how to be better allies to people of color. Tensions grew as the facilitators led us into uncomfortable conversations designed to help us uncover our hidden biases, layer by layer. …

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Easing the Pain of an Abrupt Transition, from Afar

“Congratulations! You have a unique set of skills that makes you a perfect fit for another project. So we’re ‘rewarding’ you by moving you over to another manager. This is a fabulous career move, with plenty of opportunities for growth. Of course I’m sad to see you go, but I know you’ll do great.” Such …

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Daring Leaders Build Trust by Peeling Away the Armor, Choosing Courage Over Comfort

How can I build trust, quickly, across my team? That’s the #1 question I get from my clients and students. Before I read Brené Brown’s  brilliant new book, Dare to Lead, I would have hedged, insisting that there are too many variables to give just one answer. But now I realize there is one answer that seems to …

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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 why …

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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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How Restorative Justice Concepts Can Make for Healthier Workplace Relationships

My first offender was a college sophomore who decided that the perfect place to have a party was the vacant home of a friend whose family was on vacation. We’ll never know whether she was being honest when she claimed not to have realized that the friend’s parents weren’t home. But what we do know …

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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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From Jaded to Jazzed: Quick Tips for Sustaining Happy, Healthy Virtual Teams

Have you ever been part of a team where you’re inspired and energized by your work, really enjoy the people, feel like you’re making some great contributions, and have meaningful opportunities to learn and grow? If you’re lucky, maybe it’s been once or twice. If you work virtually, attaining this kind of “team nirvana” is …

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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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Worth a Thousand Words: Connecting Virtual Teams Through Imagery and Metaphor

Using images and metaphors can work wonders to break the ice, create a shared sense of purpose and cultivate an environment of real collaboration. But when a team is confined to connecting only through virtual means, the use of visuals as a springboard for meaningful discussion is typically limited. Not because it has to be …

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Open Communication, Mutual Respect Keys to Intergenerational Harmony

With multiple generations working side by side for several years now, much has been written about the key differences that affect the ability of multigenerational teams to collaborate successfully. Some organizations have taken this advice to heart and work to consciously reflect these differences when it comes to selecting and cultivating teams. Others have dismissed …

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