Guided Insights

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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Mobilize Global Virtual Teams by Avoiding 8 Common Landmines

Imagine you’re heading a new global team responsible for a major company initiative. The 25 team members represent 10 countries and five continents. You need to get this team moving quickly, and you must rely on a combination of asynchronous and synchronous communication methods. Even the most seasoned international business professionals may fall into some …

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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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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 …

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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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Cutting to the Chase: 8 Essential Steps for Faster, More Engaging Meetings

“Most meetings are poorly-planned, badly-managed and attendance is often mandatory. If you’re forced to sit though a meeting that’s running way too long and the agenda is nothing of concern to you, then using a mobile device will allow you to salvage at least a little of your productive capacity. But the real answer is …

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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 …

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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 …

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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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Proven in Practice – Top Tips Essential to Virtual Project Team Performance

I’m always gratified when readers write to say that the latest Communiqué really hit the mark. One reader, a colleague and former client of mine, has sent me so many such mails over the last 10 years that I arranged to meet with him – virtually – to learn which tips he found the most …

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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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Seven Attributes of an Exceptional Virtual Collaborator

Just because someone works virtually doesn’t mean that person really has what it takes to collaborate successfully. In fact, many who work remotely are poorly suited to make the connections they really need to thrive. In this edition of Communiqué, we look at characteristics that make for a successful virtual collaborator, and those that may …

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Holding Back: A Counter-Intuitive Approach for Virtual Leaders

When they first join a new team, members tend to be energized, motivated, and eager to learn the ropes. Many take pride in finding the information and resources they need to tackle their new assignments and may need just a bit of guidance to keep moving in the right direction. After all, absorbing and applying …

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Leading vs. Managing Remote Teams

As more organizations work virtually, managers of traditional work teams are tapped to lead geographically dispersed teams. When thrust into this unfamiliar territory, many managers flounder, especially those who rely on command-and-control tactics to get work done across locations, functions, cultures and time zones. Joining me in writing this month’s Communiqué is my friend and …

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Moving to the Virtual Classroom: 8 Steps to Keep Learners Engaged

As our workforce becomes more scattered, organizations are being forced to rethink how they deliver training. While the array of solutions may vary, one trait these organizations have in common: They are scaling back or altogether eliminating classroom training in favor of distance learning. Most don’t have the experience or tools to make this move …

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Dealing with Disruptive Participants, Virtually

We’ve all suffered when the bad behavior of just one person can derail a whole meeting. Maybe it’s been the know-it-all who steamrolls over anyone who tries to speak. Or the person who folds her arms and rolls her eyes without a word. It could be the guy who has nothing good to say about …

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Designing a Distraction-Proof Virtual Meeting

We try to pay more attention during virtual meetings. We really do! But then something diverts our attention (it doesn’t take much!) and we find ourselves tuning out, despite our best intentions. It could be that a teammate just IM’d us with an urgent SOS for help. Or that our workload is too crushing to …

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Building Trust Within Virtual Teams – Small Steps Add Up

When we ask clients to name the toughest challenge associated with leading virtual teams, there is one answer that always pops to the top of the list: Building trust. Or in some cases, it’s re-building trust. Building trust is hard for any team, but it is especially hard for virtual teams, whose members have few …

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Virtual Meetings: Design for Worst-Case Scenarios for Best Outcomes

Normally, I ascribe to the 80/20 rule when it comes to planning meetings or designing training. That is, I know I can’t possibly predict every single situation that might arise, so I do my best to anticipate what I think will happen 80% of the time for 80% of the participants. As far as the …

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10 Easy Ways to Disengage Your Virtual Team

I’m in the midst of rolling out a new virtual leadership series for a client. We start every series by exploring the three building blocks of successful virtual team leadership (literally, the ABC’s): Accelerating Trust, Building Social Capital and Creating a Level Playing Field. One major challenge comes up in every conversation: How to keep …

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How Virtual Leaders Can Help Others Thrive in a World of Complexity

Consider this: Today’s companies set themselves up to six times more performance metrics than they did 50 years ago. Top leaders committed to just four to seven performance imperatives; today, CEOs commit to somewhere between 25 and 40. According to Yves Morieux of the Boston Consulting Group, author of a recent Harvard Business Review article, …

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Balance Innovation and Expediency for a Supercharged Team

How many emails can I write while “participating” in a weekly review meeting? Which ideas can I repurpose so I don’t have think of new ones? How many calls can I avoid by blasting a group IM? How many minutes can I save by outsourcing dinner prep to the local pizza joint? Yup, for many …

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Untangle your Virtual Team with 10 Most-Needed Norms

Precious few virtual teams have explicit team norms, even for aspects of teamwork where the absence of shared norms can really trip a team up. Excuses include: “When would we have time to talk this through?” “Everyone pretty much knows how we need to work.” “We’re too busy.” And my favorite: “It’s too late to …

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Rewarding, Recognizing and Celebrating Achievements from Afar

How do you celebrate a major milestone? Maybe you call the troops together to share a pizza, or bring in a jug of coffee and a platter of decadent donuts. Better yet, you might treat your hard-working team to lunch or dinner. And if it’s a moment worthy of a special celebration, you might throw …

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When Workloads Are Seriously Out of Whack – 11 Leadership Tips

Say you’re the leader of a team of hard-working professionals who work in different locations. It’s crunch time, and pretty much everyone realizes they need to put aside their personal lives for the next few days (or maybe a tad longer) to meet a critical deadline. Trouble is, you discover that while some people are …

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Who Moved My (Virtual) Water Cooler?

When’s the last time you bumped into a colleague unexpectedly in the hallway and after a brief chat, came away with a brilliant solution to a problem that’s been vexing you for weeks? If you’re part of a virtual team, it’s probably been awhile. Even in the largest global organizations, few virtual teams have regular …

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8 Great Year-Round (Free!) Gifts Everyone on Your Team is Guaranteed to Love

Give a gift every day for 29 days straight? Yeah, right – as if I have the time (and money), with everything I’m already juggling! But that’s what a colleague just invited her friends to do. When she explained that such gifts can be as simple as starting a conversation with a downtrodden stranger, making …

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Draw Lines in the Sand to Jumpstart Virtual Team

Virtual teams are hard to see. That’s why the boundaries that define the scope, accountabilities, roles, reporting relationships, tasks and deliverables can be pretty tough to grasp. That is, if they exist at all. Why? Some teams simply assume that everyone has a shared understanding of the big picture. If that’s true, the thinking goes, …

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Nine Hidden Assumptions That Can Kill (Virtual) Collaboration

Manager: “Look, I know I said you could work from wherever you wanted, as long as you got the job done. And yes, I appreciate that you’ve arranged your entire schedule accordingly. Of course, you’re doing a great job! (Well, at least I think you are.) It’s just that the leadership around here believes that …

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