Management Success Tip #133: Managing Your Remote Team: Keep Your Eye on the Goal

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Working remotely is no longer uncommon. Like it or not, many of the members of your team – if not all, are telecommuting.

How do you get people to work together, to collaborate, to accomplish company goals, when they aren’t even in the same country, much less the same building?

One of the keys, according to Kevin Eikenberry (Remarkable Learning, Leadership Tip, Jan. 2014), is to have clear goals:

What is the team trying to accomplish? Do they all know, and can they all consistently describe, the goals? What are you doing to remind people of these goals and keep them in front of them? While this is always important, it is especially so when people are not in consistent contact with each other. As a leader you must make sure the goals are clear and everyone is focused on moving towards them.”

Dictionary.com defines a goal as “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.”

Which means, that you have three goal-oriented issues to define, discuss with, and remind your remote team of:

– What is the result we’re looking to achieve?

– What is the effort required?

– What is the direction/s in which we should be aiming?

Explore these questions with your remote team regularly, and you’ll have a much easier time of keeping them together, collaborating, and effective.

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Management Success Tip #115:Increase Employee Engagement with a Coach’s Mindset

Increase Employee Engagement with a Coach’s MindsetDo you want to earn employee loyalty, and with that, their enthusiastic engagement? Then behave more like a coach, not a teacher.

According to Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, “Coaches are specifically and explicitly on the student’s side… The focus is on helping the child get better, bringing out the child’s best so he or she can win.”

How does this apply to the workplace? Laura Vanderkam, discussing Khan’s ideas in a recent MoneyWatch/CBS News suggests: “If you’re delivering performance reviews this week, ask yourself this question: Am I behaving like a teacher or a coach? Is the point to label members of your team — your A players, B players and the C players who may be on their way out? Or is the point to figure out what your team members need to work on, and then figure out a way that you can work with them — as their ally — to shore up their weaknesses, practice repeatedly and ultimately to win?”

A coach turns average players into good players, and good players into great ones. That’s precisely what you can do, when you let your employees know, in word and deed, that you are their ally, that you are on their side, supporting them in every way you can.

Just like a really good coach.

Management Success Tip #99: Engage Your Employees by Discovering Their Best Talents: Be Direct, Ask

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The Gallup Organization’s findings that 70% of employees are not engaged at work and the longer an employee stays with an organization the less engaged they become, is unhappy news for managers as well as employees, for the less engaged an employee is, the less their productivity and level of performance.

One of the key ways in which we engage, is by feeling productive–needed, worthwhile, contributing something of value. And sometimes, workers disengage simply because their job, their day-to-day, doesn’t allow them to offer what they feel they do best.

Claude Morelli, retired Superintendent/CEO of the Burnaby School District in British Columbia, currently an International Academic Advisor, suggests that management:

“Find out what your employees do best by considering–what they do best? How do they use their talents and strengths to do their best work? How can you as their leader place them in situations where they can do their best work?”

The easiest, most straightforward way to find out what your employees do best is to ask them. Ask what your workers feel are their strongest talents, how they feel these talents could be best used. Ask!

Employees feel valued when asked their opinion, especially when you then take action based on those opinions.

And a valued employee is an engaged employee.

Management Success Tip #86: Put Failure Behind You: Harness the Power of “I Will”!

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Failures dog us. Mistakes are hard to put out of our minds. Things we forgot to do, should have done, would have done if only . . . eat at us.

All of which yield short term gain, long term pain.

In the short term, of course it’s important to recognize where we messed up, otherwise there’s no accountability, and certainly no learning. That’s why failures of all shapes and sizes are beneficial in the short term. The very short term.

But too often we don’t learn-and-move-on. We bemoan-and-stay-stuck.

Thinking about what you coulda, woulda, shoulda steals energy away from where your focus needs to be if you are to be successful: here, now! Once you’ve digested the lesson you needed to learn from whatever your goof was, it’s time to switch your focus to the present, and the future.

Not only that, but it’s critical that you switch your focus from what you won’t do to what you will do.

Just as staying stuck on rehashing your failure keeps you in failure mode, paying attention to what you won’t do in the future (“I will not be late” “I will not speak up in a meeting unless I’m 100% sure of my facts”) virtually guarantees that you will repeat the same mistakes.

Instead, reframe your thinking. Tell yourself what you will do: “I will make the extra effort it takes to be on time.” “I will gather my facts before speaking up.”

Try it. When you find yourself saying “I won’t” to something, figure out what the “I will” behavior would be, focus on that, and notice how much more success you reap.

Management Success Tip #82: Halt the Invisible Money Drain of Meetings: Get Efficient!

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Let’s see, for an average meeting: twelve participants, one hour each, comes to whatever their salary breaks down to for an hour, times twelve. Oh, and then there’s the hour each participant is not doing their usual job. So multiply that total by two.

And it’s not like you only hold one meeting a week.

Yikes! You’d better be getting a lot of great results out of those meetings!

Cause it’s not like you don’t need the creativity that is proven to come out of people thinking together, brainstorming, and collaborating. You most definitely do. But what you need in addition to that creativity, is an effective way to generate it, without unnecessarily draining your business of dollars or manpower.

How? Easy:

1. Whatever information will be the topic of discussion should be sent out to everyone in advance.

2. Whatever questions are to be discussed should be sent out as well.

3. Assume that everyone has digested the information, is ready to discuss the questions, and start the meeting with the discussion.

4. Keep everyone on topic, and don’t allow rambling or discussion outside of the topic.

Those workers who don’t read the information, etc., ahead of the meeting, will quickly realize they’re out of the loop, because you don’t coddle them by reiterating the information previously sent out.

If you hold true to these guidelines,  your meetings will be shorter and more efficient, which is better for all concerned – and your business pocketbook.

Management Success Tip #71: Not All Under-Performers Are Created Equal: Nurture Your Good-Performers-In-The-Making!

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Managers typically don’t like to deal with under-performers. After all, what’s more fun: congratulating your super-star on his/her latest achievement? Or dunning an employee for yet AGAIN, not getting it right.

Under-performers get short shrift in the honest-feedback department. Mostly because you’d rather get rid of them than nurture them into good performance. And certainly, there are those who are just not a fit for the job. However, don’t punish those who are a decent fit, by giving them less than your best.

Be honest. Tell your under-performing employee what, specifically, they are doing that’s not up to par. Then, give them a chance to improve. Give them an opportunity to take a seminar, assign a buddy/mentor to them. Tell them what positive traits or abilities you observe that your under-performing employee can bring to bear in their area of challenge: perhaps it’s their persistence, or their attention to detail, or their willingness to learn.

Be interested in their development. Check in to see how they’re doing. Find out what their personal career goals are and foster those. The more you show an active, genuine interest in your under-performer’s own goals, the more likely they are to want to demonstrate active, genuine interest in yours.

Management Success Tip #68: Empower Your Frontline Employees: Give Flexible Customer Solutions Plus Feedback

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You know that your frontline employees, those who work directly with customers, are most successful when they are given the means to provide flexible solutions for various customer needs and concerns.

However, you worry that those “flexible solutions” end up costing you entirely too much money. After all, look what happened when your employees jumped on the “no questions asked returns and refunds” option, and used it as the cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all solution to absolutely everything.  Sure, it made life easier for your employees, but it still gives you a stomach ache just thinking about how your quarterly returns suffered.

The solution, however, is not to yank your frontline people’s ability to offer flexible alternatives to customers, it’s to give them better training and feedback in how to do it.

For example, give your employees specific examples as well as general guidelines in which alternative best meets both the customer’s needs and the company’s resources. Preferably in a manual, or FAQ they can refer to easily and quickly.

Pair up a more senior frontline worker with one just learning how to respond to customers. Peer mentoring can provide very effective training.

Most importantly, provide ongoing, continual feedback as to how well your frontline workers are satisfying both customer and company needs. Only then can your employees become adept at using flexible solutions without straining the company budget.