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Delegation Is An Art: How Should It Be Done?

Delegation is a good idea but often falls flat in practice. Despite hiring bright minds and able hands, managers often find themselves overburdened and overloaded with tasks. Best practices tell individuals to focus on the highest priorities and delegate tasks to others, especially if it offers the opportunity for growth and development of your team. While this idea is great in theory, many people run into trouble.

A one-size-fits-all approach to delegation represents a strategy doomed to defeat. You could identify an item to delegate and then rely on the direct reports to figure out how to execute it or to speak up with questions if needed to. Unfortunately, not every item or even every employee is suited to this process, and problems can reveal themselves hours or minutes before a deadline. Here are four common reasons why delegation fails and what to do about them.

Lack of Critical Thinking

While many of us want to be considered smart, focusing on how others see you can be problematic when overplayed. If you jump in too early and too often with insights, your peers and direct reports will never have an opportunity to develop their own expertise. Confidence also takes a beating when people enter a meeting knowing they will leave feeling less than their manager. And while your insights may be helpful, they’re often offered only after a team has invested weeks of work preparing a presentation. It’s also dangerous to have only one person doing most of the critical thinking in an organisation; you could be leaving your company vulnerable to blind spots.

To elevate your team’s capacity to think for themselves, embed the practice of coaching early in the process. Instead of providing answers, ask questions. The quality of their insights will be directly proportional to the quality of your questions. For instance, by asking, “How would our chief competitor respond to this strategy?” Open-ended questions allow others to broaden their lens and consider new angles, rather than merely data-gathering queries. Instead of having to supply the solution, you activate others’ critical thinking skills.

Lack of Initiative

Sometimes employees lack the initiative to make bold moves or even follow up on smaller ones. They could agree to action items that they left incomplete or fail to communicate why they would miss a deadline. If you find yourself almost always initiating follow-up discussions then that is not delegating, that resembles micromanaging a lot more.

If your attempts at delegation are failing because you think others lack initiative or follow-through, address it tactically and strategically. Assign someone to jot down notes, action items, dates, and ownership before the end of each meeting, and start the next meeting following up on promises made. While this might sound basic, nearly half of the executive teams I work with lack appropriate hygiene in follow-through. More strategically, consider crafting a “placemat”— a one-page document (about the size of a placemat) that lists top priorities. A placemat signals what you plan to reward and provides another way to increase employee motivation. By scrubbing sloppy execution and signalling what truly matters, you can shape up accountability and motivation.

Lack of Quality

Unleash your team’s ability to contribute quality. First, provide them with a list of common mistakes in a presentation and what you would like instead. For example, instead of wordsmithing the title of a slide so it’s shorter, direct your team to deliver slide titles that don’t overflow to a second line. You can even delegate drafting this list to your direct reports based on what they already know about your preferences. Second, instead of fixing the fault, point it out and request a repair. Annotate a document with comments, instead of redlining it with direct edits. This will take more time initially but save you time in the long run as your team learns what you’re looking for. This may also require earlier deadlines, so your direct reports aren’t submitting final products at the last minute — and that’s ok. By showing them where they can improve, you’ll find that you’ll have better quality presentations and more time in the future.

Lack of Speed

Almost every CEO I have worked with marches to the beat of “CEO time” — a time warp where they either think they can (or they do) complete tasks faster than others. This may be the case because the CEO is more experienced, is clear about what she wants up front, doesn’t have to spend time divining or iterating to tailor the task, and hasn’t taken into account the extra time spent by employees because they want to look professional in front of the boss.

The next time you have what you consider a “quick” task, ask your team member how long they think it will take. If there is a discrepancy, ask about their process and the reason for the estimate. If necessary, you can help shave off time but removing unnecessary frills or details. For example, they may not need to create a beautiful slide deck but simply write up two paragraphs. On the other hand, you will start to become better educated about what and how long it takes to complete a delegated task and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Managers often experience the push and pull of delegation. We push out the work, only to pull it back again when it fails to meet expectations. By diving deeper into the point of failure, we can better address the underlying causes of delegation failure and encourage our team to be more motivated and productive.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.meistertask.com/blog/delegate-tasks-effectively/
https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_98.htm
https://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/7-strategies-to-delegate-better-and-get-more-done.html

Vulnerability – The Key to Unlocking Better Leadership

Few myths are as universal as the notion that leaders ought to appear tough and confident. Or at least that was the case before the current and ongoing pandemic, which has exposed the many weaknesses of forceful, dominant leaders and highlighted the superiority of those who have had the courage to reveal their vulnerabilities.

Consider how Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, and Jair Bolsonaro dismissed the virus, displayed fearless bravado, and undermined the policies of wearing a mask or social distancing, putting others at risk. Contrast this with the honest and data-driven approach taken by Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern, or Sanna Marin, which saved thousands of lives and mitigated the economic damage to Germany, New Zealand, and Finland respectively.

People in compeanies of all types are better off when their leaders are smart, honest, and caring when taking bold, potentially unpopular actions — when their focus is on helping the organisation move forward, not on how they look and certainly not on creating a false sense of invincibility that actually harms people. In a complex and uncertain world that demands constant learning and agility, the most adaptable leaders are those who are aware of their limitations, have the necessary humility to grow their own and others’ potential, and are courageous and curious enough to create sincere and open connections with others. They thrive on building inclusive team climates with psychological safety that encourage constructive criticism and dissent.

According to author Brené Brown, Ph.D, LMSW, in her latest book ‘Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead’, “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.” She defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.”

Myths and Misconceptions About Vulnerability

1. Vulnerability is a weakness. Brown says “To feel is to be vulnerable.” So when we consider vulnerability to be a weakness, we consider feeling one’s emotions to be so, too, she says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.”

2. Some people don’t or can’t experience vulnerability.Virtually Everyone feels vulnerability at one point in their life. “Life is vulnerable,” Brown writes. Being vulnerable isn’t the choice we have to make, she says. Rather, the choice is how we respond when the elements of vulnerability greet us: uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. Many of us respond by avoiding or suppressing vulnerability.

3. Vulnerability means spilling some of your secrets. Some of us hesitate to be vulnerable because we assume that means exposing our “secrets.” We assume that being vulnerable means spilling our hearts to strangers, and as Brown puts it, “letting it all hang out.” But vulnerability embraces boundaries and trust, she says. “Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. Being vulnerable takes courage.”

4. Another Myth: You Can Go It Alone. None of us, in recognizing our vulnerability, should pretend we are able to “go it alone.” When we ask others “Can you help me with this? What are your thoughts on this issue? Are you willing to work on this together with me?” “I’m not sure what we should do here,” we are expressing our vulnerabilities in a courageous and positive way.

Vulnerable Leaders

In today’s business world, employees, shareholders and customers alike demand honest and transparent CEOs — those who are not only confident, but can be trusted. Yet recent Edelman Trust Barometers show that trust in business leaders is declining. Compounding this disturbing trend, the prevalence of corporate misconduct, value destruction, and toxic corporate cultures, executives may earn as much as 271 times more than the average worker.

To shake the image of the self-serving CEO with little to lose, business leaders need to be honest about their vulnerabilities — their own, their partners’, and their business’ susceptibility to loss or mistakes. If CEOs continue to act as though they have nothing to lose, or act out of self-interest they will fail to regain trust.

In business, vulnerability has been and is generally perceived as weakness. Media headlines encourage businesses to avoid vulnerability or suffer the consequences: “30% of Auto Parts Retailers’ Business Is Vulnerable to Amazon,” “Five Industries Most Vulnerable to Digital Disruption,”. Personal vulnerability is considered a liability for leaders and their organizations, so it is studiously avoided. Conventional wisdom holds that it is difficult to lead or negotiate or make demands from a position of perceived weakness.

What Vulnerable Leaders Do

Being vulnerable in the workspace doesn’t mean you walk around with a box of tissues and share your deepest, most personal secrets with everyone. So what does being vulnerable in the work environment look like?

Accept the fact that vulnerability as a strength. Being vulnerable isn’t a bad thing and it doesn’t make you weak; it actually makes you a better leader because you stop wasting energy protecting yourself from what you think other people shouldn’t see. It allows you to start showing your authentic self. By accepting vulnerability as a strength, you stop worrying about having every answer and realize it’s okay to be wrong.

Admit and own their mistakes. We all make mistakes, especially as leaders. The more willing we are to admit and own our mistakes (not make excuses, point fingers, or avoid responsibility) the more others will trust us and want to follow our lead. Taking responsibility, apologising, and making amends for the mistakes we make are not always easy things to do, but they’re essential for us to have true credibility with the people around us.

Not taking themselves too seriously. t’s important for us to have a sense of humour and not get too full of ourselves, which is something many of us do, particularly as a leader. “Do you have any idea how important I think I am?” We must laugh at ourselves, notice when we get too serious, and have enough self-awareness to keep things in a healthy perspective.

Asking and receiving help from others. As leaders. most of us like to help others, but often we have a difficult time asking for and receiving help. Requesting help can be perceived, especially by us, as an admission of weakness or an acknowledgment that we’re not capable of doing something. However, all of us need help and support — and in some cases, we need a lot of it. Being the kind of leader who is comfortable enough with yourself and the people around you to admit when you don’t know something, can’t do something, or simply need help in making something happen, is not a sign of weakness; it’s both a sign of strength and an opportunity to empower others in an authentic way.

Benefits of Leader Vulnerability

1. It decreases tension and stress at work. Stress could be decreased considerably by allowing free discussion about controversial or uncomfortable issues.

2. It increases flow of ideas, creativity, and innovation. By acknowledging that they don’t have all the answers, leaders allow others to contribute their ideas and criticisms. And admitting their mistakes, leaders give allow others to make mistakes and talk about them. Leaders who acknowledge they made poor decisions through their example, let those under them know that it is okay to take risks or make constructive suggestions.

3. Emotional connections leads to less turnover. A great deal of workplace research points out that being emotionally connected to a workplace is often a deciding factor on whether or not people will stay or look elsewhere. An open, honest and authentic leadership makes it much more likely that staff at all levels will feel a connection to the organisation at an emotional level when they feel connected with their leaders.

Now more than ever, the world needs leaders who are vulnerable, empathetic, and compassionate — servant leaders — who put the interests of others and the world first. We’ve seen how the other kinds of leaders — self-serving, narcissistic (and sometimes psychopathic) and toxic — have created chaos and damage. It’s time for a change.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carleysime/2019/03/27/could-a-little-vulnerability-be-the-key-to-better-leadership/#61a2e5f0783e
https://medium.com/why-the-best-leaders-view-vulnerability-as-a-strength-6a4a7e27d461
https://hbr.org/2020/10/todays-leaders-need-vulnerability-not-bravado

Improving Decision-Making and Group Performance

Running a business is nothing more than making a series of important decisions. For a business owner or manager, each day is filled with decision-making, with some of those decisions likely meaning the difference between profit and loss. It can become stressful to make such important decisions day after day, especially if you are trying to make them all on your own.

In many cases, it will be better to make decisions as part of a group. When a group comes together to make an important choice, the company as a whole will enjoy several advantages. For one thing, the knowledge of all of the various people in the group will be used to make the choice, not just the knowledge of one individual. There are sure to be many different backgrounds and types of experiences within the group, which means great things for the quality of the final decision. Also, bad ideas tend to get filtered out in the group setting, meaning the eventual choice is less likely to be a dud.

With all of that said, group decision-making is not perfect. It can be tough to get everyone on the same page, meaning it may take quite a bit of time to make an eventual decision, even if that decision does wind up being a good one. To make the group decision making process run as smoothly as possible, you may wish to employ one of the methods outlined in the content below. We have identified a few methods for group decision making, so there is a good chance that one of these options will be right for your needs.

The Hoy-Tarter Model of Decision-Making

Originally created for use within a school system, the Hoy-Tarter Decision-Making Model can actually be applied in a number of different settings. If you are the owner or manager of any kind of organisation, you already know just how difficult it can be to make decisions. Specifically, it can be hard to decide how to make those decisions, in terms of who you should include, what you should consider in the process, and more. Making good decisions is a key to success in business, but you can only make good decisions if you have an appropriate process in place.

In this model, the main goal is to figure out exactly who should be included in the decision-making process. Different decisions are going to require different inputs from various people, so determining who should be included in making the decision (and who should be left out) is a key step not to be overlooked. Including the wrong people, or failing to include the right people, is a mistake that can have serious consequences.

If you decide to take a closer look at how to use this model, you will find that it requires you to create a matrix which will be filled with evaluations of expertise and whether or not an individual has a personal stake in the decision. It can take a bit of time to understand exactly how this model works, but it’s worth the effort because of its effectiveness.

Multi-Voting

If you would like to use voting to help make important organisational decisions from time to time, you may wish to employ the popular Multi-Voting Decision Making method. With this method, you can select the most popular options from a list in order to get an idea about the consensus of the group. Multi-voting is not always the right solution when trying to make a decision, but it can be perfect in specific circumstances.

If you would like to use the Multi-voting method, the first thing you need to do is develop a list of ideas that are going to be the subject of your vote. Ask the team that is working on this project to collaborate on a list. At first, you can put any idea that is presented onto the list, but you will want to slightly narrow down and ‘clean up’ that list before it goes to the vote. Before taking the vote, you will want to decide on exactly how many votes each individual is going to be given. Generally speaking, each person should be allowed to vote for roughly 1/3rd of the ideas on the list. So, given a list of 15 items, each person would be allowed to place five votes (thus the name ‘Multi-voting’). Of course, you are free to alter the number of votes allotted as you see fit, but the 1/3rd rule is a good place to start.

With all votes cast and collected, all you’ll need to do is count up the totals and determine the winning ideas. If you would like, you can narrow down the list of contenders and do the vote again, further concentrating your list to just a few of the strongest options. Multi-voting is the perfect way to gauge the opinion of a large group when several ideas are on the table.

Hartnett’s CODM Model

In this application, CODM stands for ‘consensus-oriented decision-making’, and that title tells you just about everything you need to know regarding the goal of this model. The idea here is to bring your group to a consensus as far as the best decision for the situation at hand. Once you have a group assembled that you are going to use to help make this important decision, Hartnett’s CODM Model calls for following through with a seven-step process. The seven steps are as follows:

  • Framing the problem
  • Having an open discussion
  • Identifying Underlying Concerns
  • Developing Proposals
  • Choosing a direction
  • Developing a preferred solution
  • Closing

Regardless of the decision that needs to be made, this is a solid framework that you can use to walk through the process from start to finish. Of course, it may be necessary to tweak the model slightly in order to have it fit nicely with the needs of your organisation.

Delphi Technique

When a team truly struggles to reach a consensus for a major decision, you may need to step in and narrow down the options for them. The Delphi Technique takes all the ideas and compiles them for the manager of the group to break down into a smaller amount of possibilities. He or she then takes the remaining options back to the group for their consideration.

If the team continues to grapple over the resolution, the manager will condense the choices even further until they can make a decision. It gets easier for groups to reach an agreement when there are fewer outcomes available.

Rank the Possibilities

Rankings work for determining who is the best within sport leagues like the British Premier League and NFL, so why wouldn’t they work for a business as well? Whether you decide on an idea’s ranking by using a voting system or working as a team to prioritize them, it can be a great group decision making process for issues or questions that have many potential outcomes.

This technique can be organised through email, an online communication tool, or in a brief meeting. One specific way to determine how the possible scenarios should be ranked is by having everyone make a personal list of how they would rank them. Then, combine the lists and do some basic math to determine the average spot where each possibility should be represented.

By using one or more of these strategies in your business, you will see a dramatic increase in productivity and resolving issues among your team. Take a look at some of the upcoming choices your team will need to make soon and determine which of these tactics will be the most effective.

There are also numerous team-building activities you can do with your group to boost your team’s collaboration even further. Give these ideas a try and see if it makes your group decision making processes easier than ever before.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2020/09/7-strategies-for-better-group-decision-making
https://upraise.io/blog/group-decision-making-techniques/
https://airfocus.com/blog/guide-to-group-decision-making-techniques-tools/

What to Do When Your Boss Doesn’t Respect Your Working Schedule

When trying to balance your work and family commitments, it helps to have a boss who is understanding and supportive: someone who doesn’t raise an eyebrow when you sign off early to attend a school event or take a personal day to accompany one of your parents to a doctor’s appointment.

But what if your manager isn’t sympathetic to your familial responsibilities? Or worse, your boss is outright dismissive or even hostile toward your obligations? This is particularly challenging during the pandemic when many people’s work and home lives have collided. How should you handle a boss who refuses to acknowledge the other demands on your time? How can you find room for flexibility? What should you say about your family commitments? And who should you turn to for moral and professional support?

Career coaches at Work It Daily have discovered certain patterns. At this moment, employee frustration is at an all-time high. Workers are feeling fed up with their employers and wondering if the grass could be greener elsewhere.

While pay and opportunity for growth remain the top two reasons people claim they want to find a new job, the research done by Work It Daily shows that what ultimately pushes a person to seek a new job is feeling disrespected by their boss. Think of it this way: most professionals enjoy a job search about as much as they enjoy having an invasive dental operation. In order to put in the extra time and energy to switch jobs, the pain has to be really bad. When job seekers have gone the Work It Daily coaches they have complained about their manager’s lack of respect. If you don’t have the respect you want, it’s because you allowed your boss to treat you a certain way. From your first interaction with your boss until now, you have set the tone for how you’re perceived in the role. The good news is, you can change this. But to do so, you have to recognise the signs that your manager doesn’t respect you.

Know your rights

First things first, “know your rights” and understand what you’re entitled to in terms of paid leave and care options, says Thompson. Do some research into your company’s policies and whether there are alternative work arrangements on offer. Long before the pandemic hit, an increasing number of organisations instituted flexible work plans for employees, and many states have flex-work policies in place for their government workers.

Find out, too, if your situation qualifies you for the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The law requires some employers to provide paid leave to workers who must care for someone subject to quarantine or a child whose day care or school is closed. Washington recommends talking to your company’s HR person, if you have one, to learn what options and accommodations are available to you. “Knowledge is power,” she says.

Exhibit empathy

Next, summon compassion. It’s not easy to be a boss, especially right now. Many managers are under pressure. “They’re stressed, anxious, and struggling to do more with less,” says Washington. Consider the situation from their perspective.

Thompson says your empathy should be both “genuine and strategic.” Ask your manager about their pain points. Find out where their worries lie. Be sincere — show you care about them as a human being — and be tactical. Ask about their “objectives and the metrics they need to hit,” she says. “You’ll get important information about what they’re concerned about” which will help you sharpen your focus in terms of the work you prioritise.

Develop more than one plan

Once you “understand what’s top of mind” for your manager, you can frame your plans for getting your job done in a way helps them achieve their goals and objectives, says Thompson. Focus on results. When you’re a caregiver, your schedule can often be unpredictable so it’s important to make a plan as well as several contingency ones. Address your manager’s “insecurities about you not pulling your weight” by demonstrating that you’re “making arrangements to get your work done.” You want your manager to come away from your conversations thinking, “They’ve got this.”

Don’t be shy about reminding your manager of your track record for delivering on expectations, adds Washington. “Your past performance is the strongest indicator of your future performance,” she says. Hopefully, your manager will come to see “that what’s most important is not how the job gets done, but that it gets done.”

Articulate boundaries

If your boss is a face time tyrant, it can be tough to establish boundaries, but it’s still important to do. We all need time in our day that’s off-limits for work, says Washington. “If 6 pm is when you have dinner and put the kids down,” so be it. “Have those boundaries — and let your boss know that you will be unavailable then.”

But if your manager continues to be disrespectful of your family time, you need to have a conversation. Frame the discussion around you — how you prefer to structure your workday and how and when you perform best. Explain that you need your non-work hours to regroup and take care of your family commitments. Without that time away from work, you will not be able to fully devote yourself to your job.

Take care of yourself

Working for someone who doesn’t respect your life outside of work can be exhausting so make sure you’re taking time for yourself. Be purposeful about giving yourself “a forced mental break,” says Thompson. Make time to read, cook, dance, run, meditate — or any other activity that you enjoy or helps you relax. “Schedule joy,” she says.

And even if exercise isn’t usually your thing, Thompson suggests finding time for it every day, especially during this difficult period. “Don’t underestimate the power of 20-30 minutes of daily physical activity,” she says. At a time when your boss is being difficult and “nothing feels in your control,” getting your endorphins pumping should be a priority.

Don’t let a lack of respect from your boss hold you back from achieving your goals. Learn how to interact better so you can get what you need to succeed!

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.inc.com/jt-odonnell/7-warning-signs-your-boss-disrespects-you.html
https://hbr.org/2020/09/when-your-boss-doesnt-respect-your-family-commitments
https://www.drcaitlinfaas.com/blog/how-to-get-your-boss-to-respect-your-boundaries

Does Productivity Soar by Working from Home?

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, working from home has become the norm for many. But even as remote work has normalised, it’s a recent development: doing your job from your couch was less mainstream before the coronavirus – and even stigmatised.

“Have you punched into Google image search, ‘working from home’, and looked at the top 20 images? They’re basically naked people, a guy drinking champagne in what looks like a jacuzzi. I mean, almost none of them are positive images,” says Nicholas Bloom, a professor at Stanford University in California. He’s made a career out of studying work practices, including remote work. And he thinks the attitudes around working from home are finally changing.

“One silver lining with the Covid pandemic: it’s going to kickstart working from home [moving from the] fringe to a mainstream technology that is commonly used across the country,” he says. That process is already under way; firms including Fujitsu and Twitter have already announced plans to make remote work a permanent option, even after the pandemic.

A study done by Nicholas Bloom, professor at Stanford University, back in 2013 somewhat forecast this trend: in his experiment, Bloom worked with a Chinese company to study remote-work productivity. Somewhat to Bloom’s surprise, the company’s staff became notably more productive by working from home four days a week.

Now, six months into the global pandemic, an increasing number of companies are asking: should we work from home indefinitely? And if they do decide to make major organisational changes about remote work, could they see similar leaps in productivity?

How Do Knowledge Workers Spend Their Time?

In 2013, knowledge workers spent two-thirds of their time either “managing across” in meetings, often with many colleagues, or doing “desk-based work” on their own. Externally focused work (e.g. talking to customers), managing down (coaching and supporting subordinates) and managing up (interacting with the boss and other senior people) all got very little time, while training and personal development got almost none.

How has this picture changed during lockdown? There were two significant shifts: 12% less time managing across through meetings and 9% more time doing externally focused work. Desk-based work continues to take a third of our time. Other changes — a little less time managing up and a little more time on training and development — were not statistically significant.

Standing back, the evidence suggests lockdown has helped us more effectively prioritize our work. We still need to get through our emails and report-writing. But we are significantly less likely to get drawn into large meetings, and this leaves us more time for client or customer work and for training and development, which most people would argue is a good thing. However, lockdown doesn’t seem to have helped with hierarchy-spanning activities (managing up and down), presumably because it’s impossible to have the short, spontaneous meetings that used to be possible.

How Do Knowledge Workers Decide What to Do? 

While most knowledge workers have a written job description somewhere, it is well understood that they take responsibility for choosing what to do and when to do it based on a variety of factors, including tasks outside of their formal role when it appears sensible to do so.

To get a sense for how these decisions are made, we asked study subjects to choose among four options for every activity: It’s a standard part of my job/my boss asked, a peer or colleagues asked me, I did it spontaneously, or it was important and I found time. In 2013, respondents said 52% of their activities were standard, 18% requested by a peer , 24% independent but important, and 3% independent and spontaneous. In 2020, we are still spending half our time on standard activities, but we are doing only 8% because a colleague asked, and a full 35% because we thought the activity was critical.  Both these differences were statistically significant. Spontaneity rose to 6% but this difference was not statistically significant.

What’s going on here?  It seems we have been taking more direct charge of our time during lockdown. Working from home gives us a bit of breathing space: We don’t have colleagues or bosses badgering us, and we don’t get drawn into meetings by force of habit, just because we happen to be around. The result is a reassuring increase in us making time for work that matters most to us.

Concerns and Challenges

Working in lockdown has helped us to focus and to take responsibility. But that’s not the whole story. Follow-up interviews revealed some of the areas of concern that we as individuals — and as leaders of others — need to understand.

Some respondents cited the potential for shirking: “I am worried there is some slackening of effort. People are starting to get a bit too comfortable working from home,” said one. In our view, this is not a huge problem: There are many ways of informally monitoring how much time your colleagues are putting in via Outlook, Slack and other tools, and we should really be evaluating knowledge workers on their outputs not their inputs anyway.

The bigger areas of concern were around the things people couldn’t do well in a virtual environment. Take managing across first: It’s not so hard for an existing working group to stay on course when working remotely, but the challenges of getting started on something new (the forming/storming stages of team development) or resolving internal conflicts are enormous. Of course, these activities can be done over Zoom – just not as well. Few people are energized by informal online get-togethers. As one person said, “We are slowly losing the social glue that holds us together.”

Managing up and down are no less tricky under lockdown. Most respondents had instituted regular one-on-one catch-ups with their teams and bosses, but they usually focused on immediate task and personal well-being issues, rather than longer-term development. They missed the opportunity to bottom out difficult issues: “You cannot challenge a person quite so well over Zoom. You tend to hold back,” said one. They also lamented the loss of growth opportunities for their teams: “I used to throw people into new assignments, where they learned on the job, watching and learning from experienced colleagues. That’s almost impossible to do in a virtual setting.”

Finally, some people worried about their own development. While time spent on self-education went up during lockdown, this was mostly due to online webinar and course attendance — which helps build knowledge but doesn’t encourage the active experimentation and personal reflection that help us really grow.

For many of us, the new socially distanced mode of working may continue for some time.  The good news for knowledge workers from the first phase of this experiment is that lockdown has helped us better manage and prioritize our schedules to favor the most value-added work. The challenge — as we move into the next phase where some face-to-face meetings are allowed — will be to bring back the informal and social elements of office life that are so vital to organizational and individual success.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200710-the-remote-work-experiment-that-made-staff-more-productive
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/study-working-from-home-means-more-time-on-computers-but-workers-arent-more-productive/
https://hbr.org/2020/08/research-knowledge-workers-are-more-productive-from-home?ab=hero-main-text

AI & People Represent the Future of Work

Too many business leaders still believe that AI is just another ‘plug and play’ incremental technological investment. In reality, gaining a competitive advantage through AI requires organisational transformation of the kind exemplified by companies leading in this era: Google, Haier, Apple, Zappos, and Siemens. These companies don’t just have better technology — they have transformed the way they do business so that human resources can be augmented with machine powers.

While no one knows what artificial intelligence’s effect on work will be, we can all agree on one thing: it’s disruptive. So far, many have cast that disruption in a negative light and projected a future in which robots take jobs from human workers. That’s one way to look at it. Another is that automation may create more jobs than it displaces. By offering new tools for entrepreneurs, it may also create new lines of business that we can’t imagine now.

A recent study from Redwood Software and Sapio Research underscores this view. Participants in the 2017 study said they believe that 60 percent of businesses can be automated in the next five years. On the other hand, Gartner predicts that by 2020 AI will produce more jobs than it displaces. Dennis Mortensen, CEO and founder of x.ai, maker of AI-based virtual assistant Amy, agreed. “I look at our firm and two-thirds of the jobs here didn’t exist a few years ago,” said Mortensen.

In addition to creating new jobs, AI will also help people do their jobs better — a lot better. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer summed this idea up as, “Human plus machine equals superpowers.” For many reasons, the optimistic view is likely the more realistic one. But AI’s ability to transform work is far from preordained. In 2018, workers are not being adequately prepared for their futures. The algorithms and data that underlie AI are also flawed and don’t reflect the diverse society it’s meant to serve.

How AI Could Grow Jobs: Inventing New Ones, Empowering Existing Ones

While AI will certainly displace some jobs, such displacement has occurred long before AI was on the scene. In the past century, we’ve seen the demise or diminishment of titles like travel agent, switchboard operator, milkman, elevator operator and bowling alley pinsetter. Meanwhile, new titles like app developer, social media director, and data scientist have emerged.

Daugherty and Jim Wilson, managing director of Information Technology and Business Research at Accenture Research have co-authored a book titled Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI. In their view, future (and current) jobs include trainers and explainers. Trainers will teach AI systems how to perform and mimic human behaviours.

Empowering Workers, Businesses and Industries

Rather than replacing workers, AI can be a tool to help employees work better. A call center employee, for instance, can get instant intelligence about what the caller needs and do their work faster and better. That goes for businesses and industry too. In another example, in life sciences, Accenture is using deep learning and neural networks to help companies to bring treatments to market faster.

In addition to helping existing businesses, AI can create new ones. Such new business include digital-based elder care, AI-based agriculture and AI-based monitoring of sales calls. Finally, automation can be used to fill currently unfilled jobs. As Daugherty noted recently, there is a shortage of 150,000 truck drivers in the U.S. right now. “We need automation to improve the productivity of the drivers, the lifestyle of the drivers to attract more people to the industry,” he said.

The Value of Human and Machine Working Together

AI technology can boost business productivity by up to 40 per cent, according to Accenture. But while business leaders may rejoice at that fact, 72 per cent of employees fear AI stealing their jobs, Pew Research found.

However, the adoption of AI doesn’t mean a wipeout of work available to humans. While some tasks may be trusted completely to AI, like the algorithms that drive recommendation engines on platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, others are reserved for human skill only.

For instance, because AI cannot offer empathy or emotion, traits native only to humans, it likely won’t have an applicable role in practice areas like psychotherapy, social work or in-depth customer service.

There’s also a third category of work: the kind best done by humans and AI working in tandem. In the case of many tasks, AI can help get progress started, but it still requires a human to complete the job by verifying the accuracy or providing more context. These gray areas include services like accuracy checks and human interaction.

While AI may not complete such tasks perfectly on its own, there is still value in keeping AI a part of the process. The ideal AI-human arrangement is one in which AI technology drives the lower-level, repetitive processes associated with completing a task, while human oversight ensures the timely and accurate completion of that task.

AI-Human Teams in Action

So where can we see this tag-team dynamic in action? The voice transcription space serves as one example.

Quick and accurate voice-to-text technology plays an important role in the deaf and hard of hearing community, as well as the higher education and legal industries. AI can transcribe human speech much faster than humans can—in a controlled environment, that is.

But the everyday need for voice transcription doesn’t always come in the form of a controlled environment. AI only hits peak accuracy when the speech mimics the kind it was trained on. We can’t rely on AI alone to transcribe voice perfectly when the accent, speed, diction, and tone of the speech vary, or if background noise is present.

However, it’s most efficient to give AI the first crack at it and employ the help of humans to verify accuracy and fix errors if needed. Taking this approach has enabled faster access to high-quality voice transcription than ever before.

Teams that rely on fast voice transcription are reaping the benefits of humans and AI perfecting the practice. Courts, for example, face a court reporter shortage, with an estimated 70 per cent of the workforce expected to retire over the next 10 years. AI and human-powered voice transcription will help fill in the gaps.

Students — whether deaf, hearing-impaired or with no hearing issues — all benefit from timely access to the transcriptions of course lectures. Deaf and hearing-impaired students deserve the chance to keep up with their hearing classmates, and not all hearing students learn best by listening.

While AI has earned its place it every industry, it doesn’t always perform best on its own. Enlisting the help of humans brings it to its full potential and allows us all to take full advantage of a powerful technology, making a true difference in end-users’ lives.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/329099
https://www.wired.com/wiredinsider/2018/04/ai-future-work/
https://hbr.org/2020/08/the-secret-to-ai-is-people

Should Entrepreneurship Be Taught in Schools?

Our education system is responsible for preparing young people to build successful lives. They should be ready for the wide range of possibilities ahead of them, including working for others, entrepreneurship, and contributing to their communities. All of these options require a depth of knowledge in their chosen discipline, as well as creative problem-solving skills, leadership abilities, experience working on effective teams, and adaptability in an ever-changing environment. It’s no coincidence that these are the same capabilities that employers say they want in college graduates.

These skills are the cornerstones of entrepreneurship education, which explicitly prepares students to identify and address challenges and opportunities. Therefore, along with teaching traditional subjects, such as science, grammar, and history, that provide foundational knowledge, it’s imperative that we teach students to be entrepreneurial.

Entrepreneurship education prepares students to identify and address challenges and opportunities. There are many who believe that entrepreneurship is an inborn trait that can’t be taught. This is simply not true. As with all skills, from math to music, learning to be entrepreneurial builds upon inborn traits. For example, learning to read and write taps in a baby’s natural ability to babble. Each baby learns to harness those noises to form words, connect words to compose sentences, and combine sentences to craft stories.

Entrepreneurship can be taught using a similar scaffolding of skills, building upon our natural ability to imagine:

  • Imagination is envisioning things that don’t exist.
  • Creativity is applying imagination to address a challenge.
  • Innovation is applying creativity to generate unique solutions.
  • Entrepreneurship is applying innovations, scaling the ideas by inspiring others’ imagination.

Using this framework, educators at all levels can help young people engage with the world around them and envision what might be different; experiment with creative solutions to the problems they encounter; hone their ability to reframe problems in order to come up with unique ideas; and then work persistently to scale their ideas by inspiring others to support their effort.

Also, if there is no space to allot entrepreneurship as a separate paper, then it can be merged with subjects like economics, history, technical n, comparative studies, business education or psychology. Integrating entrepreneurship in these main stream subjects will allow students to understand the same and take up later in life.

Learning entrepreneurship from school level will allow students also instil the following traits at a young stage:

Patience

Business is not a one-day phenomenon. It happens over time, grows over decades or more. The entrepreneur needs to hold on their patience and be with the business all throughout. Learning entrepreneurship from school, will allow one to get accustomed to the long time span that one requires to invest to establish a business.

Flexibility & Adaptability

Running business is not a smooth flow of events. It has good times, bad phases and so on. How to survive at the best and worst of business can also be learnt from an early stage, if entrepreneurship is introduced in school.

Desire to Achieve

As school is too nascent a stage, students might change their decision of being an entrepreneur and opt for some other profession. But, it’s the ‘hunger to achieve’, the take away from entrepreneurial classes that will help them earn success in any other profession. 

Entrepreneurship education does not just benefit those entering the fields of science, technology, and business. Students of art, music, and humanities can develop their imagination and learn how to apply creative thinking skills to real-world problems.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/287310
https://www.marlborough.org/news/~board/stem/post/five-benefits-of-entrepreneurship-education-to-students
https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/schools-teach-entrepreneurship/

Rethinking the Work Schedule

The coronavirus has changed the workplace in ways that will permanently transform the future of most organisations. Many leaders have been forced to craft new and improved strategies for successfully running an office remotely, building environments that help — not hurt – our immune systems, and developing guidelines to enforce safety measures like social distancing. Perhaps the most common change designed to address all of these areas is rethinking the employee work schedule, whether it is to support changes in work-life balance, to minimise social contact, or to meet wavering business demands. The traditional nine-to-five workday is no longer the gold standard.

Responsibility for gathering relevant information, identifying alternative schedule options, and implementing the new schedule is often given to the Human Resources (HR) manager. Since information on the subject is surprisingly scarce, this responsibility can be quite a challenge. It’s not something you do every day. Few people have the expertise to design a schedule for a group that works more than five days a week or more than one shift a day. Once you realize that schedule design is not the only step in changing schedules, nor the most difficult, you easily can be overwhelmed.

Despite the difficulty, this is a great opportunity for HR managers to orchestrate a significant change in the organisation. As an HR manager, you are uniquely qualified to do this. You tend to have a broader perspective than line functions such as production or maintenance. You have more experience in communicating with employees. Your on-going role as a company steward has trained you to protect organizational interests while addressing employee concerns.

Organisations change the work schedules of their non-exempt employees for a variety of reasons:

  • Change the hours/days of operation to match the demand for their products or services.
  • Fix problems such as high absenteeism, hiring/retention issues, or excessive overtime.
  • Improve efficiency (e.g., lean manufacturing) or lower the operating costs.
  • Respond to employee requests for change or complaints about the current schedule.

The Process of Change

In today’s tight labour market, organisations simply can’t afford to lose employees. Changing work schedules is an easy way to alienate the workforce and increase turnover. To ensure widespread support for the change, you need to have a plan for involving the key stakeholders and keeping them informed throughout the entire change process.

That sounds simple enough, but it’s actually the most difficult part of changing schedules. People are resistant to any kind of change. When it comes to work schedules, even a minor change can make a significant difference in employees’ lives. For example, changing the time that the work starts by 15 minutes may seem trivial, but it can have serious repercussions for people who commute in a carpool or use public transportation, parents with day-care requirements, and individuals with hundreds of other personal commitments built around their work schedules.

Availability of Resources

How many employees are needed to satisfy the coverage requirements? How many hours will they have to work each week? In addition to the base coverage, you need to consider absences such as vacations, illness, training, etc. Additional staff and / or overtime may be needed to cover these situations. Even though you think you have sufficient personnel, if a number of employees want to take a vacation at the same time, this could leave you short-handed. If someone takes a leave of absence due to health problems, pregnancy, or family care, you may not be able to replace them. The use of temporary employees may help, assuming you can find someone with the necessary skills.

Schedule Conflicts

Schedule constraints include legal considerations (e.g., state laws requiring overtime to be paid after 8 hours of work) and union agreements (e.g., limits on the number of consecutive days worked). There are also company policies to consider. For example, your company may require that all employees rotate so they spend an equal amount of time on every shift.

These are referred to as “constraints” because they limit the number of possible schedules. If you need an 8-hour fixed shift schedule with a maximum of 5 days worked in a row, you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a schedule that gives you a lot of weekends off or long breaks. Without the constraint on the number of consecutive days worked, you would have a lot more options to choose from. Without the fixed shift constraint, you would also have more choices. If there are too many constraints, it may be necessary to add more workers, increase overtime, or sacrifice some coverage.

Changing employee work schedules is not a simple task. There is a lot more involved than simply finding a work pattern that matches the new hours of operation or accommodates a preferred shift length. The six major considerations are the change process, coverage requirements, available resources, schedule constraints, employee preferences, and company policies. Skipping any one of these can result in implementation delays, unhappy employees, damage to your relationship with workers, poor business results, and higher costs. However, with proper planning, preparation, and communication, it is possible to produce a win-win result for employees and the organisation.

Changing your organisation’s work schedules may be one of the most important tasks you undertake in your career. Not only is the schedule vital to the performance of your company, but it is also an integral part of your employees’ lives. The time and effort you invest will increase the chances of achieving a positive outcome for everyone affected by the new schedule.

This pandemic has revealed that some jobs, such as healthcare, are truly essential, and employees in that sector have to work difficult hours. At the same time, the post-pandemic period may be a time for organizations and society to reconsider the definition of essential. For instance, moving forward, is it really necessary for workers to be available at all hours, year-round, to provide nonessential services at retail and fast food places?

The key will be finding a balance between short-term business needs and the long-term benefits that new scheduling strategies bring to both employees and the organisation.

To summarise, rather than being mechanistic, organisations can take a more organic approach and allow employees to play a bigger role in determining when they want to work. We have already seen considerable discussion lately about where (e.g., from home) and how (e.g., using video conferencing technology) people will work in a post-pandemic world, but additional thought should also be given to when everyone works. Managers are encouraged to thoughtfully consider the schedules that are right for them as they return to their places of work.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2020/07/rethinking-work-schedules-consider-these-4-questions
https://shift-work.com/about/changing-schedules/
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/rethinking-the-work-life-equation.html

The Fear of Making Mistakes at Work

The Covid-19 crisis and its fallout — including recession, layoffs, and uneven economic pain — as well as recent protests over police brutality and demands for racial justice have presented many of us with challenges that we’ve not encountered before. The high-stakes and unfamiliar nature of these situations have left many people feeling fearful of missteps. No one can reduce mistakes to zero, but you can learn to harness your drive to prevent them and channel it into better decision making. Use these tips to become a more effective worrier.

As they say, everyone makes mistakes. In many situations, you can correct your error or just forget about it and move on. Making a mistake at work, however, is more serious. It can have a dire effect on your employer. It may, for example, endanger a relationship with a client, cause a legal problem, or put people’s health or safety at risk. Repercussions will ultimately trickle down to you. Simply correcting your error and moving on may not be an option. When you make a mistake at work, your career may depend on what you do next.

The current culture that is perpetuated glorifies fearlessness. The traditional image of a leader is one who is smart, tough, and unafraid. But fear, like any emotion, has an evolutionary purpose and upside. Your concern about making mistakes is there to remind you that we’re in a challenging situation. A cautious leader has value. This is especially true in times like these. So don’t get caught up in ruminating: “I shouldn’t be so fearful.”

Use emotional agility skills 

Fear of mistakes can paralyse people. Emotional agility skills are an antidote to this paralysis. This process starts with labelling your thoughts and feelings, such as “I feel anxious I’m not going to be able to control my customers enough to keep my staff safe.” Stating your fears out loud helps diffuse them. It’s like turning the light on in a dark room. Next comes accepting reality. For example, “I understand that people will not always behave in ideal ways.” List off every truth you need to accept. Then comes acting your values. Let’s say one of your highest values is conscientiousness. How might that value apply in this situation? For example, it might involve making sure your employees all have masks that fit them well or feel comfortable airing any grievances they have. Identify your five most important values related to decision-making in a crisis. Then ask yourself how each of those is relevant to the important choices you face.

Repeat this process for each of your fears. It will help you tolerate the fact that we sometimes need to act when the best course of action isn’t clear and avoid the common anxiety trap whereby people try to reduce uncertainty to zero.

Apologise, but keep it simple

Genuinely say the words, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake,” and offer how you plan to correct it. Resist the urge to offer excuses or to start apologising repeatedly. On the other hand, don’t overdo it trying to make it up. Stay professional and business-minded, recognising how valuable company time is.

An apology conveys several major things: regret of the mistake, responsibility for it, and respect for the company and people in it. An apology also offers the opportunity for the other people to let go of their anger. The moment the apology is genuinely made is the moment that you can work to rebuild.

You can’t change the past but you can find a solution for the here and now. One apology to the right person or people along with a possible solution will come across much more positively than a bunch of unnecessary filler words and statements to the entire office.

Accept the consequences in stride

The management and the HR team can decide that you need another form of reprimanding. Or they can take you up on your offer on how you’ll correct the mistake. Whatever the case, accept the consequences and carry out your tasks without complaining.

This reinforces your apology and will likely generate additional respect. Whether it’s staying after work for a few days in order to remedy the work, reaching out to the wronged person, or going about your normal work tasks, do it and do it well. Don’t just say you’re sorry, show them through your actions. Be a better worker.      

Broaden your thinking

When we’re scared of making a mistake, our thinking can narrow around that particular scenario. Imagine you’re out walking at night. You’re worried about tripping, so you keep looking down at your feet. Next thing you know you’ve walked into a lamp post. Or, imagine the person who is scared of flying. They drive everywhere, even though driving is objectively more dangerous. When you open the aperture, it can help you see your greatest fears in the broader context of all the other threats out there. This can help you get a better perspective on what you fear the most.

It might seem illogical that you could reduce your fear of making a mistake by thinking about other negative outcomes. But this strategy can help kick you into problem-solving mode and lessen the mental grip a particular fear has on you. A leader might be so highly focused on minimising or optimising for one particular thing, they don’t realise that other people care most about something else. Find out what other people’s priorities are.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/mistakes-at-work-526244
https://www.inc.com/john-discala/4-ways-to-bounce-back-after-making-a-mistake-at-work.html
https://hbr.org/2020/06/how-to-overcome-your-fear-of-making-mistakes?ab=hero-subleft-3

Virtual Work Skills Have Become a Must

2020 is the year that work went remote. In a matter of days, entire workforces were sent home and told to set up shop. Employees with no prior experience working from home were asked to navigate digital communication platforms, online meeting tools, and a deluge of email.

When you couple the inherent challenge of communicating remotely with uncertain and turbulent times, creating a cohesive and successful remote team can feel like an uphill battle.

Maintaining strong, productive relationships with clients and co-workers can be challenging when you never see the person you’re working with. Yet, it is common to have ongoing work relationships – sometimes lasting years — with people you’ve never met in person.

We often think of “virtual work” as working with someone located outside an office, or in another city or country. This type of work is on the rise: a 2017 Gallup report found 43% of American employees work remotely; in another survey, 48% of respondents reported that a majority of their virtual teamwork involved members from other cultures.

However, virtual work also encompasses how we are turning to technology to conduct business with nearby colleagues, sometimes within the same building or campus. At a large consumer-products firm where we’ve been conducting research, an HR director recounted the changes she witnessed in employees located in two buildings a few miles apart. “Ten years ago, we would regularly drive between buildings to meet each other, but today, we almost never do; meetings are conducted by videoconference and everything else is handled on e-mail and IM.”

Research consistently indicates that virtual work skills – such as the ability to proactively manage media-based interactions, to establish communication norms, to build social rapport with colleagues, and to demonstrate cooperation – enhance trust within teams and increase performance. Our surveys indicate that only about 30% of companies train employees in virtual work skills, but when they do, the training is more likely to focus on software skills and company policies than on social and interpersonal skills. Our findings are similar to those of a 2006 survey of HR leaders on training of virtual teams, suggesting that while technology and virtual work itself has advanced dramatically in recent years, our preparation to work virtually has not.

Recent reviews of the last 30 years of virtual work research shows that the most effective workers engage in a set of strategies and behaviours that we call “virtual intelligence.” Some people tend to be naturally more adept at working virtually than others; yet, everyone can increase their virtual intelligence. Two specific skill sets contributing to virtual intelligence are 1) establishing “rules of engagement” for virtual interactions, and 2) building and maintaining trust. These skill sets are relevant to all individuals who conduct virtual work, including co-workers in the same office who interact virtually.

Communication Is Key

While employees struggle to find their places in a new virtual team, how can we ensure the forced—or in some cases, desired—distance doesn’t lead to a culture of silence and silos? How can you put your people first and ensure distance doesn’t come between relationships and results?

Communication technology. Once you know you’ll be working virtually with someone on a regular basis, initiate a short conversation about their available technology, and agree on the best means of communication (e.g., “We’ll e-mail for simple, non-urgent matters, but get on Skype when there is something complex that might require us to share screens. Texting is fine if we need to get in touch urgently, but shouldn’t be used day-to-day.”)

Best times to connect. You might ask your virtual co-worker, “What times of day are typically better to call or text? Are there particular days of the week (or month) that I should avoid?” Establishing this rule early in a virtual work relationship both establishes respect for each other’s time, and saves time, by avoiding fruitless contact attempts.

How best to share information. If you’re collaborating on documents or other electronic files, establish a process to ensure you don’t inadvertently delete updates or create conflicting versions. File-sharing services such as Dropbox can help monitor revisions to jointly-owned documents (often called “version control”), but it is still wise to establish a simple protocol to avoid lost or duplicated work.

As the use of technology for all types of communication has become ubiquitous, the need for virtual work skills is no longer limited to telecommuters and global teams; it now extends to those of us whose work never takes us out of the office. Making a concerted effort to develop these skills by setting up rules of engagement and establishing trust early can feel uncomfortable, especially for people new to the idea of virtual work. Most of us are used to letting these dynamics evolve naturally in face-to-face relationships, with little or no discussion. Yet, workers with higher virtual intelligence know that these skills are unlikely to develop without explicit attention, and that making a short-term investment in developing the virtual relationship will yield long-term benefits.

Building and maintaining trust

Two types of trust matter in virtual work: relational trust (trust that your colleague is looking out for your best interests), and competence-based trust (trust that your colleague is both capable and reliable).

In order to build relational trust you must bring a social element into the virtual work relationship. Some people do this by starting conversations with non-work-related questions, such as “How are things going where you are?” or “How was your weekend?” Avoid making questions too personal, and don’t overwhelm your colleague with extensive details of your life. Keep it simple and sincere, and the conversation will develop naturally over time. Let your enthusiasm and personality show in your virtual communications. Keep it professional, but try adding a little of your own ‘voice’ to give your virtual colleague a sense of who you are, just as they would have in a face-to-face meeting.

Competence-based trust is highly important as well and to create such a relationship sharing your relevant background and experiences, indicating how these will help you support the current project. For example, on a new product development project, you might say, “I’m really looking forward to contributing to the market analysis, as it focuses on a market that I researched last year on another project.” Take initiative in completing tasks whenever possible and communicate that you’re doing so with periodic update e-mails. Doing this shows commitment to the shared task. Respond to e-mail quickly and appropriately.

Many virtual work relationships fail due to inconsistent e-mail communication. Silence works quickly to destroy trust in a virtual colleague. We recommend replying to non-urgent e-mails within one business day (sooner if it’s urgent). If you need more time, send a quick acknowledgement of the e-mail, letting your colleague know when you will reply.

Given our current situation knowing that your colleagues or employees are best suited for this new scenario we find ourselves in. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It is now important to find out whether your managers or your team is well-equipped of working together from various locations. It requires deep knowledge of their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you discover if your people are resilient during times of hardship, if they are autonomous, if they are team players, without actual human contact. Given that our platform is cloud-based, everyone can use it from home as well. Humanity finds itself at a crossroad for various reasons now, why not help people discover and develop themselves from the comfort of their own homes?

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Sources:

https://www.mckinsey.com/about-us/new-at-mckinsey-blog/this-moment-belongs-to-virtual-capability-building
https://www.td.org/insights/how-to-lead-a-virtual-team-7-skills-to-put-your-people-first
https://hbr.org/2018/10/the-virtual-work-skills-you-need-even-if-you-never-work-remotely