Category Archives: Blog

Negotiating Outside the Boardroom

Negotiating isn’t just something that takes place in conference rooms with powerful forces aligned on either side of a table. People have informal negotiations every day — with their coworkers, merchants, even family members.

Adapting the Process for Smaller Negotiations

Some of the principles of negotiation can be useful in everyday situations. For example:

  • Separate the people from the problem. Don’t let personalities get in the way of negotiating.
  • Focus on interests, not positions. Consider what both parties want and need. Don’t let adherence to a particular position narrow the range of options you are willing to consider.
  • Expand the range of options. One way to overcome an impasse in a negotiation is to expand the range of the discussion. 
  • State the terms of an agreement in specific, clear terms.

Even if you are not in a traditional negotiation position, it can be helpful to use the principles of negotiation to bring you a positive outcome in everyday life. Making decisions in the home, you will find that results can be found which are to the benefit of all parties by using these principles. It should be added that you would be ill advised to use these principles for every decision – but where there is some difficulty in reaching a decision, you can reach a positive outcome by taking into account some sound, decent principles which have for years been used to reach positive decisions.

Negotiating via Telephone 

The phone can be a convenient vehicle for negotiations, especially when the two parties find it difficult to meet in person. But in many cases an agreement reached over the phone needs to be confirmed through some other method. 

For example, suppose you have a phone conversation with a coworker in which you both agree to do certain things within the next week. A week goes by and the other person has not done what he agreed to. You call him and he replies, “I didn’t agree to that.” It would have been better to follow up the first phone call with an email message that begins, “I just want to confirm what we agreed to do in our phone conversation.”

When you arrive at a positive conclusion from a phone negotiation, it can be tempting to just hold on to your belief that you have got the right result, but even if you have recorded the call an unscrupulous counterpart can try to back out of it if they feel they have plausible deniability. Get everything nailed down by following up, and you will be able to put the deal in the record books. It is common sense to keep everything regulated and avoid any difficulties further down the line.

In order to negotiate effectively on the telephone we need to consider a few rules that also apply to face-to-face negotiation:

  • Pay attention to particular points. 
  • Listen Actively. Don’t interrupt the other party; don’t spend your ‘listening time’ figuring out how you’re going to respond to them when they finally stop talking. The better you listen, the better you can learn, and the more likely you will be able to respond in a way that improves the negotiation’s result.
  • Don’t let the immediacy of a telephone call force you into fast, unwise decisions. There is nothing wrong with requesting more time to think about the terms discussed.

Negotiating via Email

Email can be an effective method of communication, but is has some inherent limitations.

In general, it is appropriate to use email in a negotiation:

  • When the topic is clearly defined.
  • When the topic does not require extensive discussion.
  • When the expected response is relatively simple.
  • When there is little possibility of misunderstanding.

It is not appropriate to use email:

  • When the topic is complex.
  • When the topic requires extensive discussion.
  • When the topic has great personal significance for the parties involved.
  • When the topic is likely to stir up strong emotions.

E-mail has become a very popular way of keeping discussions simple and straightforward both in business and personal communications. However, there are limitations to it and it is important to be aware of these limitations. Keeping communications simple and somewhat informal can be helpful, but it should be remembered that waiting on an e-mail can be frustrating. If multiple communications are required, it is best to keep things face-to-face. 

What e-mail does have going for it in a negotiation framework is that it keeps a record of every e-mail sent and received, along with dates and times allowing everything to be official. If you have a relatively simple detail or two to be finalized, e-mail is fine. If you have a situation requiring a full negotiation, e-mail should only be used as a preparation aid and a formal confirmation of things decided in a full, face-to-face negotiation.

This post is from January’s topic on Negotiation Skills.

Skills for Successful Negotiating

Key skills include:

  • Effective speaking 
  • Effective listening 
  • A sense of humor
  • A positive attitude
  • Respect
  • Self-confidence
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Persistence
  • Patience
  • Creativity

Without the above factors, negotiations will be difficult if not impossible. The necessity for negotiation arises because neither party will be able to get everything they want. Knowing that there must be concessions, each party in the negotiation is required to adopt an attitude of understanding that they must get the best deal possible in a way which is acceptable to the other party. The importance of effective speaking and listening is clear; it is necessary to establish what you are looking for and what you are prepared to accept, while understanding what the other parties will be happy with.

A sense of humor and a positive attitude are essential because they allow for a sense of give and take. Negotiations can become fraught, and having the ability to see the other side’s point of view while being sanguine with regard to what you can achieve will be essential. Of course you will want as much as you can get – but the other side needs to achieve what they can, too. Seriously uneven negotiations will simply lead to further problems along the line. An atmosphere of respect is essential. If you do not make concessions while demanding them from your counterpart, it makes for a negotiation which will end in dissatisfaction.

However important a sense of understanding for your “opponent” may be, it is also necessary to have the confidence to not settle for less than you feel is fair. Good negotiators understand the importance of balance. Yes, you will have to make concessions, but the point of making concessions is to secure what you can get – so you need to pay attention to your bottom line and ensure you are not beaten down to a minimum. Knowing what is realistic, and ensuring that you can get the best deal, relies on being ready to insist upon something that the other side may not be willing to give initially. Emotional intelligence, persistence, patience, and creativity can all play a part here.

This post is from January’s topic on Negotiation Skills.

Inspiring a Shared Vision

It has been a year of upheaval, uncertainty and change. As a leader, it has never been more important than it is now to inspire a shared vision among your followers which is the key to true leadership. Before you can convey a vision, however, you have to develop it. You must be clear in your vision, live it before others can see it, and model it from your behavior.

Choosing Your Vision
What do you want to accomplish, and what do you need to do to get there? Determine attainable goals and focus on them. King Arthur sought the Holy Grail. Lewis and Clark mapped much of the United States. NASA took us to the moon. What is your vision? Your vision will provide a sense of direction for you and your followers. In the military, focus is on “the mission.” Whatever the mission is, everyone is dedicated to it. Let your vision be like a lighthouse on a hill, guiding ships to safety and warning them away from the rocks.

Communicating Your Vision
Communication is more than just the words you say or the memos you write. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Take every opportunity to communicate your vision in words and deeds. One of the best ways to communicate a vision is to sum it up in a simple catch phrase. Post your slogan, catch phrase and mission statement in prominent locations. When you send out emails, list it in quotes below your signature block. Hold meetings occasionally or hand out “Visionary Awards” to people who exemplify your vision. Above all, lead by example.

Identifying the Benefit for Others
Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” as if you were one of your own followers. The answer might not always be obvious. Certainly, performance bonuses and awards work, but most followers enjoy being part of a larger, successful organization. Everyone loves a winner. When the home team wins at the stadium, you would think the fans in the stand were the players by the way they share in the victory and excitement. We are social creatures who like to feel like we belong. We crave acceptance. If you can get your followers to accept your vision as their own, and excite them about being part of it, they will often excel beyond what you (or they) thought possible. Be sure to reward loyalty and performance above and beyond the call of duty.

Season’s Greetings and all the best wishes for the New Year from the Leaders Excellence team.

Tools to Fight Procrastination

Procrastination is one of the leading causes of disorganization. As we’ve seen before, we can often make excuses to do it later for find various reasons why something can be put off until later. But once we’ve compiled our giant to do list and have decided what tasks should be done first, our next step, or steps, is to fight against procrastination and just do them. With the right tools and good habits, you’ll be able to say good bye to procrastination sooner, rather than later.

Eat That Frog!
As Mark Twain says, “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” We all have that task we dread doing, whether it’s at home doing the dishes or at work sending our email reports. Our normal plan of action is to put it off while completing various other tasks. Then when it’s time to complete this unpleasant task, we either find a way to put it off or don’t tackle it with full force. But Eat That Frog is a concept that says we should “eat the frog” first, or rather do our least favorite tasks first, and fully complete them before moving onto another project. When this job is out of the way, we spend the rest of our time completing more favorable tasks, and revel in knowing that you don’t have to return to the first one.

Remove Distractions
Even after you have set your mind to completing a task and checking it off of your to do list, the smallest distraction can make you lose focus and stop working. They can occur at home or at work, and often times we do not even register them as a distraction. When you are preparing to start a project or task, look around and evaluate what is in the area that could distract you. Turn off personal cell phones or devices or put a sign on your door asking for silence and to not disturb. Ensure everything you will need is organized with your workflow to reduce the need to get up and leave your area. When we eliminate these distractions that can make us lose our focus, we will see an increase and production and spend less time trying to complete the same project.

Give Yourself a Reward
Rewards are a great way to keep ourselves motivated. After all, who doesn’t want to earn a little treat after a job well done? The key is to only reward the good behavior, such as finishing a small task or completing a whole project. If we jump to the reward too soon, we are only rewarding our negative behavior and are not helping to reduce procrastination. Start with small rewards when working on something, such as taking a break or getting something to snack on. We can reward ourselves with a bigger prize when the entire job is finished, such as going out with friends or doing something fun that we enjoy more.

Break Up Large Tasks
Sometimes we think we have less to do because we have fewer items on our lists, only to realize they are larger than we realized and could become overwhelming. When we feel defeated by these larger tasks, they can lead to further procrastination. Instead, take this one large task and break it into smaller, more manageable tasks that can be completed more easily. If you have a 20 page slideshow due at work, break the project into separate page tasks, completing one or two at a time until it is all completed. If you have decided to clean out your entire garage, start by retrieving all of your donated items or clearing out trash items. When one task is done, you can move on to the next one until the entire job is done. Don’t forget to take periodic breaks and stop to re-evaluate your progress.

This post is from December’s topic on Organizational Skills.

Managerial Structure

Managerial structure is one of the most important aspects of a company’s corporate behavior. If you do not have appropriate, effective, and knowledgeable managers, you don’t have happy employees. There is a well-known saying that employees leave managers, not companies. That is a fairly accurate statement, the management is what the employee has the most contact with. A poor manager can be easily spotted by the amount of turnover they have in their department. According to Forbes, 31% of employees quit their jobs solely because of their supervisors. So how can you make the most of your management team? Let’s discuss it together.

Clearly Defined Management
Clearly defining your management team is important. Defining your management team means that you have an outline of the managers by hierarchy. It is also helpful to have their job functions listed, but since some managers handle a lot of different tasks, that may not be possible. An employee does not want to have 17 bosses, and not know which one they need to report to. Every new employee orientation should include information on the management. You can give your employees the information in a list, or in a chart. Some people feel like it is easier to receive this information in the form of a chart, but you should utilize whichever is easier for the employees to process.

Qualified Management Team
Having a qualified management team is very important. When you are a leader, you need to have the respect of your employees. Those employees need to be able to look to you for guidance on their positions. As a supervisor you should be able to perform the employees’ job function forwards and backwards, figuratively speaking. This knowledge is important for guidance, and training, but also for evaluating. How can you effectively evaluate your employees if you don’t understand the aspects of their job function?

Obvious Advancement Path
Employees want to be able to see where their managers came from. They want to feel like if they do a great job, eventually they too can climb up the company ladder. An environment that does not provide encouragement for employees to strive for the best is detrimental to employee morale. There are thousands of employees who leave their positions each year because they felt like they had no room for professional growth. Having a clearly defined advancement path is one way to help an employee rise to their potential, and stay with your company. You can help your employees see that there are ways to rise up the corporate ladder in your company by showing them! Offering professional development courses and tuition reimbursement are just a few ways you can show your employees you want them for the long haul.

Apparent Grievance Procedures
A grievance is a real or imagined wrong or other cause for complaint or protest, especially unfair treatment. Unfortunately in any work environment, there are going to be grievances or problems. It is very important for a company to have clearly defined grievance procedure. When these unfortunate incidents happen, an employee needs to know the proper steps to report these grievances. They also need to be able to understand that the company has their best interests at heart, and has provided a safe arena for them to report grievances. The grievance procedures should include how to report a grievance and what steps will be followed once a grievance is filed. As a company, you want to provide an environment where employees are free to report problems, and not feel like they will be ignored or targeted.

This post is from November’s topic on Developing Corporate Behavior.

Categories of Corporate Behavior

There are an immeasurable amount of categories of corporate behavior. The trick is finding out what behavior you need your company to adopt. This could include adopting values like punctuality or safety. A great corporate behavior can make or break a company, so it is important to provide the appropriate support for your employees. We are going to explore together some of the more major categories of corporate behavior.

Managerial Structure
Managerial structure relates to how the management team is put together, and what types of employees make it up. Unfortunately, many of us have dealt with an incompetent boss. Nothing squashes employee morale quicker than a poorly trained manager. A supervisor should meet three major qualifications:

Leadership skills: Understand how to lead a team effectively. Understand the proper way to address employees and how to encourage and motivate them. Should have knowledge on how to give constructive criticism.

Departmental Knowledge: Knowledge of the processes and function of the department. This means that the manager should know how to perform the job tasks of the employees they supervise. The worst thing in the world is to have a boss that doesn’t know how you do your job, and wants to critique you.

Company Knowledge: The manager should be knowledgeable about what product or service the company provides to the public, and about what is new with the company. They should know what the company goals and values are, and what the future plans are for the company.

Values and Ethics
A value is a standard of a person’s behavior. There are two types of values; terminal values and instrumental values. A terminal value is a value that a person would like to achieve during their lifetime. What it means, in a nut shell, is that if you want to have great success in business, you have to work hard. The terminal value is having great success in business, and the instrumental value is working hard. Ethics are moral foundations that regulate a person or group of people’s behavior. Ethics and instrumental values may seem like they are the same, but they are not. An ethic is a moral basis, it is not hinged on accomplishing a value. An ethic is a conviction that a person or a group of people have because they feel like it’s the right thing to do.

Employee Accountability
Employee accountability basically means that an employee takes responsibility for their actions. This could refer to positive or negative actions. So how do you promote accountability? It starts with the employees identifying with the company’s mission. As a supervisor, it’s also important to make sure the employees understand that the company wants them to take ownership of the results of their job. Suppose you were a janitor, and one of your job tasks was to remove the trash daily. The company does not want you to take ownership of the act of removing the trash. The company wants you to take ownership of the trash can being empty- thus making the area look clean. Accountability also relates to something that an employee is doing that is inappropriate. An employee who is constantly late for work needs to take accountability for their actions.

Workplace Incidents
Workplace incidents cover a broad range of scenarios. An incident is defined by an event or an occurrence. In this context, it is an unfavorable event or occurrence. A workplace incident can be an on the job injury, a complaint of harassment, or an act of workplace violence. As an employer, it is your job to do everything you can to keep your employees safe. Adopting behaviors within the company to protect employees will make them feel like you care.

This post is from November’s topic on Developing Corporate Behavior.

Problem Solving

A major function of critical thinking is it gives us the ability to solve problems. Regardless of our vocation or profession, we are presented daily with a host of decisions and problems to solve. Some psychologists define a problem as a gap or barrier between where an individual is and where they wish to be. In other words, a problem is the space between point A and B. Problems then essentially consist of the initial state and a goal state. All possible solution paths leading to the goal state are located in the problem space.

Identify Inconsistencies
Much of critical thinking is about how to connect the two points in a problem. However, sometimes critical thinkers are presented with inconsistencies or what scientists call cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance can appear through a discrepancy between attitude and beliefs. Inconsistencies can also be called variances or dissimilarities. It is a natural tendency to want to eliminate inconsistencies when solving a problem. The best way critical thinkers can identify inconsistencies is by using their logic and objectivity to see variances. Identifying inconsistencies would fall under the first stage of problem solving in which we are familiarizing ourselves with the subject.

Trust Your Instincts
“Trust your instincts” falls under the second stage of problem solving, and you should now start to see solution paths. Instincts are defined as a natural intuitive power. Intuition or instincts are key pieces in problem solving. When coupled with trial and error, informed guesses, and brainstorming, intuition and instincts can lead to a highly creative process. Many scientific discoveries and inventions were made because the innovator followed their instincts. Think of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison, for instance.

Asking Why?
Asking why is equally important in problem solving. It is not sufficient to be simply presented with the information or data. Critical thinkers must always be willing to dig deeper and explore various possibilities. Asking why can fall under any of the three stages of problem solving.

Evaluate the Solution(s)
Once a possible solution has been derived, problem solvers may feel they can proceed with the solution. However, they should not overlook the all-important step of evaluating all possible solutions. Sometimes, one problem has more than one solution and taking the time to evaluate the efficacy of each alternative is a critical thinking skill. Evaluation is also called judgment, and this is the third stage of problem solving. The critical thinker should evaluate each alternative and judge which one is the best.

This post is from Octobers’s topic on Critical Thinking.

Benefits of Critical Thinking

Critical thinking will help you make better decisions and to rationally apply information. While there are many benefits of critical thinking, we will examine only four. They are:

• Being more persuasive
• Better communication
• Better problem solving
• Increased emotional intelligence

Being More Persuasive
Persuasiveness is the characteristic of being able to influence others. We normally think of salespersons and politicians when we hear the word persuasiveness. However, all managers or professionals use persuasiveness on a daily basis. Anytime, we want to have others accept our ideas, we do so through the power of persuasion. How will critical thinking make us more persuasive? It is because critical thinking is a deliberate or thoughtful process, and the more deliberate we are, the better we are in expressing our assumptions or ideas and persuading others.

Better Communication
Critical thinking improves communication for some of the same reasons that it improves persuasiveness. Many of the same factors we use to improve our persuasiveness also make us better communicators in general. For instance, the use of analogies and metaphors are a great persuasion and general communication technique. In addition to helping us in using language more persuasively; critical thinking also helps us use language with more clarity.

Better Problem Solving
Critical thinking and problem solving are closely related and are almost intertwined. Sometimes we say that to solve logic problems we must use our critical thinking skills. In fact, logic, critical thinking, and problem solving use some of the same cognitive processes. Critical thinkers use their problem solving skills and not just their intuition to make decisions or draw conclusions.

Increased Emotional Intelligence
What is emotional intelligence and how does critical thinking help increase our emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is identified as the ability to assess and control the emotions of oneself, others, and even groups. Emotional intelligence is being “heart smart” as opposed to “book smart.” Critical thinking helps increase emotional intelligence because one of the characteristics of a critical thinker is self-awareness. Also, critical thinkers know how and when to use their emotions, such as empathy, in making decisions. The more a person uses his or her critical thinking skills the better adept they should become at identifying, understanding, and managing their emotions.

This post is from Octobers’s topic on Critical Thinking.

Advantages of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has many advantages for businesses. The basic advantages of implementing the cloud in business are financial, labor, productivity, and simplicity. Taking the time to understand how the cloud provides different advantages will help you make the best decisions for your organization.

Data Center Finances
Traditional data centers can be much more expensive than the cloud, particularly for small or medium-sized businesses. The cost of data centers will vary based on the size, location, and purpose of the center. Much of a data center’s cost is on overhead and other expenses that are typically more than the cloud. Data centers also spend a large sum of money on the maintenance of infrastructure and applications that may not be up to date. Many companies find that they save when switching to cloud computing to serve as their data center.

Labor Finances
One of the largest savings that the cloud offers is through labor. Upgrades, maintenance, and administration that are taken care of in the cloud will reduce the time that local IT employees must spend on these aspects. With these tasks reduced, IT employees have the opportunity to focus on more important tasks, which will reduce overtime and extensive labor costs.
Cloud computing that is automated has an even higher impact on labor. A test run by IBM reveals that automation reduced labor by 30 percent to 50 percent. Before reducing the labor force, however, it is important to understand each task of the data center and how it relates to the cloud.

Productivity
Although it is difficult to calculate, productivity is highly influenced by the cloud. The number of responsibilities that transfer to the cloud provides greater focus on money-making projects. There are different ways that the cloud improves productivity:

Ease of connection – The cloud allows documents to be created and accessed through a common system. The connection of the workforce improves collaboration and that sharing of ideas. Productivity improves the as these processes streamline. A Cisco study has shown that better collaboration can increase productivity by 400 percent.

Adaptability – Cloud computing will improve the flexibility of businesses, allowing them to change with the market.

Reliability – The cloud protects data in case of disaster. This protection allows work to continue with minimal interruption and maintain productivity.

Ease of Use
One of the great benefits to the cloud is its ease of use. The simplicity of the cloud makes it a particularly valuable asset for small businesses that do not focus on the tech industry. Employees who use the cloud do not need to have the strongest technical skills to be productive. The icons and hyperlinks look familiar, which makes navigating through the cloud a simple task for anyone with basic computer skills. Additionally, the internet makes cloud data easier to access remotely. Data can be shared and worked on at various locations and through different devices. Leaders have the opportunity to travel for business while staying connected to the company, and employees can cooperate with each other on projects without having to be in the same location.

This post is from September’s topic on The Cloud and Business.

Leading with Attention

Every company and every manager wants to increase productivity. Constant access to information and the expectations to do more with less is overwhelming the workforce. People are easily distracted at work. Attention management allows managers and employees to increase their productivity as well as their personal job satisfaction.

What is Attention Management?
Attention management increases the ability to focus attention and can be done at the individual and organizational level. Managers are encouraged to deal with their own attention problems before trying to influence employees in their organization. In order to understand attention management, people must be aware of where they focus most of their attention. Most experts divide attention into four different areas or zones. While the names change, the ideas are all the same.

Four Areas of Attention:

Intentional: When working intentionally, people plan strategically and prioritize their activities.

Responsive: In this area people are responding to the world around them. They spend more time putting out fires than working intentionally.

Interrupted: People spend too much time answering messages and handling situations that interrupt their work.

Unproductive: This occurs when people waste time at work. Unless you are taking a scheduled break, checking Facebook and chatting is unproductive.

Stop Thinking and Pay Attention!
The advice “stop thinking” may seem counterintuitive to attention management. Many people, however, are over thinking everything and focused on the wrong ideas. When we constantly think we do not pay attention to what is really going on around us. Our feelings control how and what we think. If we think that something is boring, bad, or a waste of time, we tend to give it less attention. For example, people are less likely to pay attention during a meeting if they believe it will not be productive. The ability to pay attention allows people to better connect with the world around them, better process their emotions, and organize the way they process cognitively.

What is Mushin?
Mushin is a Chinese term that loosely translates to “no mind.” The concept is used in training for different martial arts. A better way to understand Mushin might be to call it pure mind. Mushin requires people to reach an absence of conscious thought and emotion, which better enables individuals to focus on a task. Meditation is used to reach Mushin and as a result, better intuitive skills.

What is Xin Yi (Heart Minded)?
Xin Yi is a centuries old martial arts used in China. While the fighting techniques may not be helpful when handling situations at the office, the strategies linking the mind and body are useful. Xin Yi involves the ideas of Six Harmonies that also appear in Kung Fu and other martial arts. The three internal harmonies connect the mind with will, energy, and power.

Reaching the internal harmonies is usually done through moving meditation that links the mind and body.

This post is from August’s topic on Attention Management.

Leading and Managing the Change

Every change begins with a leadership decision. Making the decision to institute changes is not always easy. Being prepared, planning well, and being surrounded by a good team will make that decision a lot easier.

Preparing and Planning
Begin by putting yourself in a positive frame of mind. You are likely to experience higher than normal levels of stress and knowing this beforehand will give you the ability to be prepared mentally and physically. You will be the anchorperson and foundation, your steady hand will guide your team through the stressful events. Be a reassuring and active force throughout the whole process. It is impossible to prepare for every contingency, but planning for the known is a must. Add time or extra room to the schedule for the unknowns. When you encounter an unexpected event your schedule should not be put off by much if you have built in some leeway. It will provide a buffer that gives you and your team the ability to deal with the unknowns and keep rolling with the change process.

Delegating
Surround yourself with people that you can delegate to and be confident in their abilities and skills. Be precise and specific with your directions as when the change process begins, you will be depending on these individuals and their talents. Communicating and providing feedback are the keys to successful delegation; make sure your team understands this. If communication fails or there is not accurate feedback the chances of success are lessened. An issue that sometimes arises when delegating is micro-managing. Keep an eye out to not micro-manage as you can quickly lose track of events and it will take time away from your main duties. Delegating is a skill that takes time as you must first learn the strengths and weakness of your team and know what tasks you can and cannot hand out. It may not be possible to always delegate, but when it can be done it will provide a great resource.

Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Always be available during the change process. Before the change prepare your friends and family that you may not be available for social events. Reassure your team that you are there for them and you are here to provide them with the necessary resources to lead them through the change. Stress to them that you are available and focused on keeping the communication lines open. Always be aware of rumors, they will happen before, during and after the change. Do not ignore any rumor, put out honest and clear communication as soon as possible. Reassure your team that if they hear a rumor to seek out more information from a reliable source. Remind them that spreading rumors helps no one and will causes more harm than good.

Coping with Pushback
Not everyone will agree on the change. Keep in mind that these types of feelings are normal as people generally do not enjoy change and are sometimes made nervous by it. You will likely encounter pushback and resistance by a number of team members. Provide facts and data to show why the change is happening and reassure them the need and benefits of the change. These types of individuals are best suited to be educated about the change with information. If you are encountering an extreme case of pushback, provide them with some choices that still fall within the spectrum of the intended change. They should then feel more involved in the process and it will help alleviate the negative mindset they may be experiencing.

This post is from July’s topic on Change Management, which is also a course on our Mini-MBA program.

How to Succeed With a Virtual Team

Succeeding with traditional face-to-face teams can be challenging enough, but succeeding with a virtual team can be just as hard, if not more so. Inspiring a team to create and meet goals, maintain motivation and work together are only a few obstacles when managing a team that you cannot see on a daily basis. But with effective communication and a little discipline, any virtual team can succeed.

Set Clear Goals
Setting goals are one of the most elementary processes that can lead to success. After all, you don’t know where you’re going until you determine what you want! Clear goals are normally set for the team as a whole as well as each individual teammate. The manager works with the team to determine what they want to achieve over a set amount of time while the employee sets their own goals about what they want to achieve as a member of the team. Setting goals with your virtual team can help them stay task-focused and can make them feel as though they are making a difference on the team.

Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
A Standard Operating System is generally a company’s process or procedure that it follows in the workplace. Sometimes a company does not feel the need to document these procedures, since many people may already know it. But creating these procedures and correctly documenting them allows the manager to share them with other employees and create them as a type of guideline and resource. As a manager, review some of the procedure and processes that have worked for you in the past and try to create them into an SOP. Although it can be time consuming, it will be worth the benefits in the end.

Build a Team Culture
Your virtual team is your family. Every member should take the time to know each other and familiarize themselves with someone else’s situation. After all, every member of the team is a human being and deserves to be treated with respect and friendliness. If employees are not able to socialize locally, allow them to have a chat room on a private server or virtual community they can come and go in to speak with other employees on a non-business level. If possible, assign projects or assignments in pairs or small groups to encourage further mingling and socializing.

Provide Timely Feedback
Positive or negative, feedback is a great tool to help employees at work. On a virtual team, giving timely feedback is important to the team’s overall success. Employees need to know how they are doing on assignments and need to know if they need to change anything. Since the manager cannot randomly approach the employee to give feedback as they would in person, it is best to set up regular, scheduled sessions to alert the employee of any negative feedback that needs to be addressed or any positive feedback that should be shared.

This post is from June’s topic on Virtual Team Building and Management, which is also a course on our Mini-MBA program.