Leadership Archives - PGi Blog https://www.pgi.com/blog Resources for Virtual Events and Global Collaboration for Businesses Fri, 24 Apr 2020 20:10:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.1 9 Types of Business Meetings (and How to Lead Them) https://www.pgi.com/blog/2020/04/9-types-of-business-meetings/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2020/04/9-types-of-business-meetings/#respond Wed, 22 Apr 2020 16:49:56 +0000 https://www.pgi.com/blog/?p=27812 When you spend the bulk of your time in meetings, each meeting can start to blend into the next. Soon, at the pace you’re going, you feel like you don’t have time to set proper, focused goals for each meeting. Right? However, it doesn’t have to be that way! By knowing the nine most common types …

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When you spend the bulk of your time in meetings, each meeting can start to blend into the next. Soon, at the pace you’re going, you feel like you don’t have time to set proper, focused goals for each meeting. Right? However, it doesn’t have to be that way! By knowing the nine most common types of business meetings, you can automatically envision your goals for each session based on meeting type, instead of starting from scratch.

1. Status Update Meetings

Your weekly 1:1, your biweekly team sync, your Scrum “stand-up”—all of these meetings fall into the category of status update meetings. The purpose is to bring everyone at the meeting up to speed with need-to-know information. Small teams and whole organizations alike might have status update meetings, although most “all-hands” meetings wouldn’t fall into this category. (They’re more likely one of the other types of business meetings).

Focus on: Expedience

When leading a status update meeting, focus on keeping it brief and to-the-point. Don’t give participants the chance to get distracted and waste each other’s time just because you called a quick meeting.

After all, status update meetings usually have the most concrete goals of any meeting. The main idea is to exchange answers to super-straightforward questions, such as:

  • What did you do to further our goal since we last met?
  • What do you plan to do today or this week?
  • Is anything blocking you?
  • Do you need anything from me, or anyone else, in order to do your job?

Since the goal is so simple, status update meetings can easily run too long and become time-wasters. That’s the tendency, but you can prevent it by setting boundaries focused on expedience.

For example, if your company applies Scrum, you already know that the time limit on a daily status update (or “stand-up”) meeting is 15 minutes. But most status update meetings, even weekly or biweekly ones, can follow the same philosophy. Status update meetings are an opportunity to save time for other things, so keep them quick.

2. Decision-Making Meetings

In a typical decision-making meeting, someone presents options to a designated decision-maker, and that person makes a decision. Some people say that decisions are a “product” that a leader makes—and that’s a good way to think about it. The end goal of a decision-making meeting is, of course, to make the best possible decision.

Focus on: Locating Any Blind Spots

The spotlight effect is one of the biggest potential failure points of any decision-making process. The “spotlight” encircles the information you’re focused on at the time. It’s what you see in your purview—the resources you already have for making your decision. So, that spotlight governs the decisions you consider viable. Failing to explore the darkness outside of that spotlight makes you vulnerable.

Falling victim to the spotlight effect means making a decision based on that information without looking beyond the possibilities you can see in the moment. For example, if you’re starting an e-commerce store, but you only know about one e-commerce platform, you might miss the opportunity to get a better price or product. If you seek advice from someone with experience in e-commerce instead, you might find a platform that’s truly the perfect fit for your needs, avoiding the consequences of the spotlight effect.

So, before making an important decision, especially about a problem you’re solving, you need to move that spotlight around. That way, you can illuminate a more comprehensive buffet of options. That’s how you can avoid letting your personal blind spots weaken you, your team, or your business.

Seeking expertise is one of the best ways to do that. During a problem-solving meeting, ask yourself, “Who’s the expert on this? What expertise can I bring in to help me understand this problem?” Make sure you tap into the expertise of your team members and other allies to the fullest extent. This way, you’ll have the most thorough possible overview of the options available, and you can avoid risks in your decision-making process.

3. Planning Meetings

As a fundamental part of project management, planning meetings bring team members together around a step-by-step plan designed to achieve a specific goal. A single project can certainly involve more than one planning meeting, so think of each planning meeting in terms of that particular goal.

Focus on: Who Does What By When (WDWBW)

Ideally, at the end of a planning meeting, everyone should know the plan. That includes knowing which part of the plan they’ll “own.” That’s why, during planning meetings, you can get a lot more done by staying focused on “Who Does What By When.” In fact, the developers at Microsoft built a functionality for this into Microsoft Project: you can create a “who does what when” report if you use that tool.

In other words, make sure everyone leaves the meeting knowing their marching orders and the timeframe in which they’re expected to complete them. If you’re running a planning meeting on video, keeping and sharing a recording or automated transcription of the meeting can help with future accountability.

4. Collaboration Meetings

The purpose of a collaboration meeting is to produce a deliverable as a team. For example, if you meet to co-create a document, webinar, or creative asset. That’s a collaboration meeting. You could also collaborate on something more high-level, like a marketing campaign.

Many creative teams, marketing teams, sales teams, and legal teams, among others, do a large amount of their work collaboratively. That’s why it’s important to identify collaboration meetings as one type of meeting and plan for them accordingly. As part of the planning, make sure all your team members have the necessary collaboration tools at their fingertips, including both technology and the relevant documents or assets.

Focus on: The Mutual Goal

In our post about what makes a great collaborator, we shared several ways to avoid ruffling feathers while collaborating. If you have experience collaborating, you know that a blend of “people skills” come into play, and it takes practice to become a truly great collaborator who inspires and motivates everyone else on the team.

That said, there’s one important thing to remember and focus on: the mutual goal, or end result, matters more than anything else. That goal matters a lot more than individuals’ egos. It also matters more than any one idea or element of the project. If you can get this point across and keep the conversation focused on the shared goal (or deliverable), your collaboration meeting will run smoothly.

5. Presentations or Trainings

Presentation-type meetings include sales demos, team training, onboarding training, webinars, workshops, and general informational sessions. Presentations and trainings come in all shapes and sizes, from 1:1 to all-hands. Basically, it’s any meeting in which a clearly defined presenter shares materials with the group, or maybe a few presenters speak as part of a joint presentation or panel discussion.

Focus on: Keeping Listeners Engaged

If you’re taking center stage, you want people to come away with positive memories of what you said. The best way to do that is to focus on one goal: keeping listeners engaged.

Whether you do it through realtime polls, multimedia, or other engagement tactics, if you’re leading a presentation or training, be interesting! Put yourself in your listeners’ shoes, and bring in the kind of elements you wish people would use in their presentations.

Here are just a few examples of things you can do to keep listeners engaged:

  • Use plenty of pictures.
  • Ask questions. If the meeting is virtual, engaging people with questions via the chat box—even fairly simple questions—goes a long way.
  • Use polls, surveys, and other audience engagement technology.
  • Tell personal stories.
  • Invite an exciting or popular guest speaker.
  • Turn the presentation into a panel with multiple speakers.
  • Use gamification (here’s how to gamify training).
  • Bring the presentation back to relatable experiences that people have had in their own lives.
  • Talk with your hands! Studies show that this makes a big difference.

Above all, keep things light and keep things moving—if you keep your listeners engaged, you’ll make the presentation or training worthwhile.

6. Problem-Solving Meetings

People call problem-solving meetings during emergencies, and also when a general business issue needs a solution. Big picture, the goal of a problem-solving meeting is to understand the problem, evaluate the potential solutions, and decide on a solution. You can think of them as a type of decision-making meeting,

A problem-solving meeting often happens before the planning meetings start. After the team decides on a solution, they’ll jump into a planning meeting to map out the implementation of that solution.

Focus on: What Caused the Problem

“Firefighting” and instant, band-aid-style solutions can work when you’re extremely short on time—but they don’t work in the long term. That’s why, if at all possible, a problem-solving meeting should aim for a complete understanding of what caused the problem. By understanding the causes of the problem, you can build a long-term solution, not just a short-term one.

For example, if your team went over-budget this quarter, cutting costs in the coming quarter will solve the problem in the short term. However, to resolve the issue for the long term, you want to address the reason why you went over-budget. You want to find and mend any deficiencies in your processes and operating principles.

Often, the full “stack” of causes extends beyond the obvious. For example, many companies are over-paying for services that they don’t really need—or for which cheaper (or free) alternatives exist. Budget optimization starts with identifying these types of costs, which are often the deeper causes of budgetary problems.

When you identify all the causes of a problem, not just the ones that seem immediately obvious, you can build a long-term solution and make your company more resilient.

7. Brainstorming Meetings

Brainstorming is an open-ended process that’s usually associated with more creative work. In a brainstorming meeting, people come together to bounce ideas around and bring them out into the open, so that the best ideas can rise to the surface and eventually come to fruition. You might brainstorm for solutions to a specific problem, or you might have a broader brainstorming session around a topic, such as “improving our branding” or “better customer service.”

Focus on: A Friendly Atmosphere

The best brainstorming happens in a low-pressure environment when everyone feels that they’re able to contribute. To cultivate this environment as a leader, focus on making the atmosphere friendly. Bring snacks. Tell a joke. Encourage timid people to speak up, and ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. Set a tone that suggests, “not every idea will work for us, but we want to hear them all.” If you have a wacky idea that you’re not sure will resonate, lead by example: toss it out there, and show a willingness to laugh at yourself. Make sure people know it’s okay to share an idea that’s not perfect—after all, that’s the point of brainstorming.

Here are a few more great rules of thumb to set the stage for brainstorming:

  • Focus on quantity, not quality.
  • Don’t analyze. The goal now is to get ideas out there—the time to analyze, iterate, and prune will come later.
  • The crazier, the better. Encourage people to think big and say whatever crazy-sounding thing might come to mind.
  • Instead of voting on ideas right away, consider sending out a poll or survey after the meeting to ask the group which ideas have the most potential.

8. Team-Building Meetings

Team-building meetings can happen on-site, off-site, in small groups, or as an all-hands occasion. In a team-building meeting, you might do some structured activities to build up trust and communication among the team. Or, you might have a holiday party or team happy hour, where team members can mingle and maybe even introduce each other to friends and spouses.

Regardless of your workplace culture, you probably want a tight-knit team of people who care about each other and have each other’s backs. If that’s a goal for you, you need to have team-building meetings from time to time.

Focus on: Fun and Games

Even if you’re doing on-site team-building “exercises,” make sure people have a fun time. Otherwise, you won’t accomplish that core goal of bringing the team closer together.

Virtual team-building, which has become more important than ever, comes with another layer of challenges. However, “challenging” is not the same as “impossible.” Virtual teams can, and do, bond. Here are a few ways remote colleagues can build themselves up as teams.

9. Feedback or Debrief Meetings

Last but not least among types of business meetings: feedback meetings or debriefings. Both of these flavors of meetings fall into the same general category because they involve talking about past events.

Focus on: The Future

Even though you’re talking about things that happened in the past, feedback and debrief meetings should look ahead to the future. Whether the news is good or bad, you want people looking forward: you don’t want them feeling discouraged, and you also don’t want high-performers to rest on their laurels. So, make sure to emphasize future expectations and plans along with any information about past events. This will go a long way toward keeping your team upbeat and motivated, regardless of what’s happened historically.

Harness These Insights

Now that you know the nine types of business meetings, you can apply this framework to your everyday life. Before your next meeting, identify which of these nine meetings it is, based on its purpose.

Once you know which type of meeting it is, remember the focal point we listed for that type of meeting, and lead the meeting with that in mind. You might feel surprised by how much of a difference this can make.

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Ready To See An Award-Winning Website? https://www.pgi.com/blog/2019/11/website-transformation/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2019/11/website-transformation/#respond Tue, 12 Nov 2019 16:39:43 +0000 https://www.pgi.com/blog/?p=27459 At the start of the year, PGi put a plan in motion to make its website simple and inviting like our flagship product, GlobalMeet. When I stepped into the CMO role, I quickly learned that we had a big task ahead of us. PGi is a business communications provider. We deliver communications tools to enable companies …

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At the start of the year, PGi put a plan in motion to make its website simple and inviting like our flagship product, GlobalMeet. When I stepped into the CMO role, I quickly learned that we had a big task ahead of us. PGi is a business communications provider. We deliver communications tools to enable companies to connect and interact with employees, customers and partners. Our purpose is to help people connect and transform business communications, yet we were not projecting that. It was time for pgi.com to undergo a website transformation of its own.

Who are we and how do we represent ourselves in the market? We do it by adopting a refreshed tone that’s collaborative, energetic, confident and trusted. The thriving culture of PGi and the ease of GlobalMeet needed to come to life through our brand and website.

Please Allow PGi.com to Reintroduce Itself

We needed to create an experience that would continue to provide the intuitive, inviting experiences our customers expect. We aspired to create a cohesive and logical sitemap that would enable a better user experience. The new website needed to be bigger, better and more appealing to the human eye. We set forth to create a website that had a more energetic brand voice, both in content and visual design.

Now, with the website transformation, we hope you find the content is more playful, easier to find and consume. Our 2019 redesign also included a free version of GlobalMeet Collaboration, our flagship video meeting product. By intentionally building a site to quickly convert new GlobalMeet Collaboration users, we’ve grown the GlobalMeet and PGi brands. The physical look of the www.pgi.com has been updated and font and use of icons align harmoniously with the new brand framework. In addition, the pages and content better align with its target buyer personas and their buyer journeys.

We were intentional in how we used our voice, color and photography, new iconography and reimagined an overall digital strategy.

GlobalMeet Website Transformation

GlobalMeet Website Transformation

Website Transformation Achieves Gold

As a result of this hard work, I am pleased to share that PGi.com has been awarded a Gold W3 Award and a Gold MarCom Award.

Receiving over 5,000 entries from across the globe, the W3 Awards celebrates digital excellence by honors outstanding Websites, Web Marketing, Web Video, Mobile Sites/Apps & Social content created by some of the best interactive agencies, designers, and creators worldwide.

“We were once again amazed by the high level of execution and creativity found in the entries we received this year. Our W³ winners continue to embody what the internet is all about as they once again raise the bar in Web development and design,” said Derek Howard, director of the AIVA. “On behalf of the entire Academy, congratulations to this year’s W³ Award entrants and winners for their dedication and commitment as they continue to create a new standard in digital excellence.”

So check out pgi.com, take a look around, and let us know what you think about our fresh, new look.

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Culture Beyond an Organization’s Four Walls https://www.pgi.com/blog/2019/10/culture-beyond-an-organizations-four-walls/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2019/10/culture-beyond-an-organizations-four-walls/#respond Tue, 29 Oct 2019 18:20:11 +0000 https://www.pgi.com/blog/?p=27433 In a new post for Digital Transformation Extra, I discussed what it takes to build a culture, an important topic given how the workforce has evolved. Physical Workspace Does Not Define Company Culture An organization’s culture centers on shared values, goals and attitudes embodying the company or institution. However, bringing people together in a single location …

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In a new post for Digital Transformation Extra, I discussed what it takes to build a culture, an important topic given how the workforce has evolved.

Physical Workspace Does Not Define Company Culture

An organization’s culture centers on shared values, goals and attitudes embodying the company or institution. However, bringing people together in a single location does not ensure a rich culture. Physical workspace does not define a company’s culture. Just as free coffee and obligatory team happy hours cannot mask a bad environment.

There are countless examples of companies with a posh office space and a lousy work environment. A culture comes when a team unites behind a shared vision and executes against it. Physical location rarely enters the conversation.

Yet, organizations mistakenly allow a culture to establish itself without first defining it, according to ERC.

Building a positive culture is not impossible to attain. It requires a clear vision, constant communication and strong leadership; it also needs the right team at every level to bring it to life.

Vision is More Than Words on Paper

Executing a vision requires organizations to follow through and implement processes and technological solutions that allow teams to connect — for collaboration and camaraderie.

Many surveys, including a recent one from Robert Half, found the “less tangible things” drive worker satisfaction. For employees, these drivers include being treated with fairness and respect and a sense of accomplishment.

Culture, whether positive or negative, has a way of snowballing. Building a thriving, motivating environment early can help set the stage for future success. A workplace’s culture is vital to recruiting, maintaining and growing talent, according to research from FTI Consulting and Mine The Gap.

It Begins With a Strong Leader

Leaders set the tone and intention for everything that happens within an organization’s four walls — whether physical or virtual walls. They can also empower a team to make decisions.

Stop focusing on location, and start concentrating on the people who make up the team. Empower employees to find the ideal space and work wherever is convenient for them. Whether in the office, from a local coffee shop or at home — to deliver success for their teams and their customers.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Millennial Employees https://www.pgi.com/blog/2017/05/get-most-out-millennial-employees/ Fri, 05 May 2017 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/get-most-out-millennial-employees/ According to a survey conducted by Atlantic Associates, 53 percent of managers agreed that the millennial generation is the toughest to manage. The tech-savvy, outspoken millennial generation gets a bad rap (we didn’t all receive participation trophies growing up, okay?!) but, if properly managed and led, the millennials in your office can be a huge …

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According to a survey conducted by Atlantic Associates, 53 percent of managers agreed that the millennial generation is the toughest to manage. The tech-savvy, outspoken millennial generation gets a bad rap (we didn’t all receive participation trophies growing up, okay?!) but, if properly managed and led, the millennials in your office can be a huge asset to your team.

Millennials are now the largest generation represented in the workforce; by 2020, millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce. It’s in your best interest to learn how to vibe with your millennial employees because, let’s face it, they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Want to learn how best to manage the millennials in your office? Read on to find out how to motivate your millennials and ensure harmony on your team regardless of generational differences.

Team Them Up

Millennials grew up surrounded by technology and are accustomed to constantly socializing with their peers. Therefore, millennials perform well when grouped with their like-minded peers. Team up your millennials on projects and watch them flourish together.

Be Flexible

Millennials are all about flexibility; in fact, 75 percent of millennials want flexibility that also keeps them on the promotion track. Throwing down a hard-and-fast rule is a surefire way to make a millennial bristle. The millennials in your office want to see that you’re open-minded to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Be Transparent

As Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter noted, “One thing I’ve learned from my younger employees is that radical transparency about the business can bridge the understanding gap between them and older generations in the workplace. Not only does this transparency engender a stronger connection, but it motivates individuals to pursue the business’s goals.” Keep it real with your millennials and watch their ambition grow.

Listen to Their Ideas

On par with their appreciation for feeling valued and their need for guidance, millennials want to feel that their ideas are taken seriously. Often ambitious and frequently innovative, thanks to the “think-outside-the-box” mindset that defines the generation, your millennial employees can be a huge asset if you simply listen to their input and take them seriously.

Give Them an Experience

Unlike the Gen Xers before them, millennials value experience over ownership of possessions. Roughly 78 percent of millennials would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable. Yes, millennials still want to be paid (we can only handle so many unpaid internships before the weight of our student loan debt begins to be felt), but compensation is not their utmost concern.

Rather, millennials want to feel valued and included; they want to gain experience and contribute to the larger strategy and goals of the business. If you listen to your millennials and make them feel involved, they will perform at a higher level because you are giving them the experience they so desire.

 

Millennials have gotten a bad reputation over the years. Millennials have been portrayed as entitled and lazy, but contrary to popular belief, millennials are actually well-educated, adaptable, ambitious and flexible. As millennials slowly begin to take over the workforce, it is important to learn how to properly manage them and encourage growth by working with their work style rather than against it.

Related Posts:

New Research May Change the Way You View Millennials

13 Tips & Tricks for Attracting Millennials to Your Business

eBook: The Millennials Career Guide

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Lack of Company Culture: The Silent Killer to Your Success https://www.pgi.com/blog/2017/03/lack-company-culture-silent-killer-success/ Thu, 23 Mar 2017 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/lack-company-culture-silent-killer-success/ Uber, the world’s largest ride services company, has captured headlines around the globe recently. With the resignation of Jeff Jones as president and CEO Travis Kalanick’s public apology after being filmed swearing at a company driver who complained about rates being cut, the company’s dirty laundry has been left out to dry for all of …

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Uber, the world’s largest ride services company, has captured headlines around the globe recently. With the resignation of Jeff Jones as president and CEO Travis Kalanick’s public apology after being filmed swearing at a company driver who complained about rates being cut, the company’s dirty laundry has been left out to dry for all of us to see.

The company is also facing pending internal investigations after a former employee described in a blog post that Uber was a workplace where sexual harassment was a common occurrence. Uber is also up against legal action after being accused of stealing designs for autonomous car technology from Google’s parent company, Alphabet (which it denies). To top it off, Uber has also admitted publicly to its previous use of Greyball, a secret technology program that uses data collected from the app to identify and circumvent authorities in cities which banned the ride service.

And those are just a few of the most recent bombshells that have been dropped about the company’s internal policies and issues. As with any startup, growing pains are bound to happen, but there’s an important lesson that all companies can learn from Uber’s troubles: Lack of company culture is a silent killer to success.

Quantifying the Importance of Company Culture

In a 2015 study headed by Shiva Rajgopal, an accounting professor at Columbia Business School, and three co-authors from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, it was found that an overwhelming majority of executives said healthy corporate culture is essential for a company to thrive.

The study, Corporate Culture: Evidence from the Field, attempts to quantify how executives view company culture’s effect on company productivity, creativity, value and growth rates. The team surveyed more than 1,400 North American CEOs and CFOs over a 13-month period, ending in October 2015. And while trying to quantify such a vague concept proved difficult, the 17-point survey found that across the board, regardless of how company culture is defined, it makes a difference in a company’s performance and value. Among the findings, it was found that:

  • More than 50% said culture directly influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value and growth rates
  • 92% of respondents believed improving their firm’s corporate culture would improve the value of the company
  • More than 90% said that company culture was important to their firms
  • Only 15% said their company culture was where it needed to be

The majority of respondents clearly agreed that strong company culture directly impacts key elements of creating a successful organization. But, who should take charge in ensuring the culture is there in the first place?

Making the Change Happen

According to respondents in the same survey, 70% agreed with the statement: “Leadership needs to spend more time to develop the culture.” Change is never easy, especially change that comes from the top down. But without dedicating efforts to improve – or continue to improve – company culture, it becomes increasingly difficult to shift business objectives toward success.

Startups may have the advantage over older organizations to create a strong company culture, but that doesn’t mean older, more established businesses can’t restructure their approach toward culture. Harvard Business Review’s (HBR) article, Cultural Change That Sticks, outlines a five-step process that companies such as the Four Seasons, Apple, Microsoft and Southwest Airlines have used to help attain peak performance:

  1. Align Culture and Strategy:

    HBR argues that, far too often, a company’s strategy is at odds with the deep-rooted practices of its culture. Aligning the culture and business objectives is key, because as HBR states, “A strategy that is at odds with a company’s culture is doomed. Culture trumps strategy every time.”

  2. Choose Your Behavior Battles:

    Change isn’t easy, and even when we are faced with overwhelming evidence that change will improve the current situation, we still will resist. So taking on every seemingly negative behavior isn’t plausible. Instead, choose a few key behaviors to emphasize heavily and stay consistent in promoting them; employees will likely develop various additional ways to reinforce them.

  3. Praise the Strengths of Existing Culture:

    Rather than torching your current values and mission statements, find value in what can be reinvented. HBR says, “If you can find ways to demonstrate the relevance of the original values and share stories that illustrate why people believe in them, they can still serve your company well. Acknowledging the existing culture’s assets will also make major change feel less like a top-down imposition and more like a shared evolution.”

  4. Focus on Finding Balance between Formal and Informal “Interventions”:

    Many numbers-driven leaders or executives will lean toward formal approaches that can produce tangible goals and results and neglect the informal, emotional side of the organization. Find a happy medium between “reach[ing] people at an emotional level (invoking altruism, pride, and how they feel about the work itself) and tap[ping] rational self-interest (providing money, position, and external recognition to those who come on board).”

  5. Find KPIs for Cultural Change:

    Implementing measurement and monitoring of progress allows executives to identify backsliding, and the opportunity to correct the course. HBR says executives should pay attention to business performance, critical behaviors, milestones and underlying beliefs.

The first step to implementing a strategy such as the above is to admit there is an issue. Often times business leaders will look everywhere but at the core of the company to find the root of the problem. But when company culture is weak, a ripple effect begins to happen. Weak culture leads to low morale; low morale leads to lost talent; lost talent leads to weak internal stability, and so on.

Though Uber has a long road ahead of them, at least Kalanick (CEO) has acknowledged he needs help and is actively seeking a chief operations officer. If your success is slipping, seek the help you need and make a plan of action. As HBR said, “Simply put, rather than attacking the heart of your company, you will be making the most of its positive forces as your culture evolves in the right way.”

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Your Next CEO? The Case for Your CMO https://www.pgi.com/blog/2016/12/your-next-ceo-case-for-cmo/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2016/12/your-next-ceo-case-for-cmo/#respond Wed, 07 Dec 2016 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/your-next-ceo-case-for-cmo/ For marketers, the corporate ladder traditionally is missing a rung or two. Climb to the lofty heights of CMO-dom, sure. Oversee a billion-dollar marketing budget, no problem. But run the whole show? That was best left to the masters of finance, operations and business development. “Looking back a bit, it is not surprising that the person …

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For marketers, the corporate ladder traditionally is missing a rung or two. Climb to the lofty heights of CMO-dom, sure. Oversee a billion-dollar marketing budget, no problem. But run the whole show? That was best left to the masters of finance, operations and business development.

“Looking back a bit, it is not surprising that the person who, essentially, managed the advertising budget and communications plan was not going to be a natural candidate for the role of CEO. However, today the role of a CMO is a million miles away from that,” said Jeff Dodds, who himself made the transition from CMO (Virgin Media) to CEO (Tele2Netherlands).

Today, there are a number of reasons why the CMO could be holding the winning ticket.

Customer Ownership

“Ownership” is the wrong word; as we’ve written before, your customers shouldn’t be quarantined to a single department. But no one is better poised to have a comprehensive and personalized customer perspective than a well-prepared CMO.

“As the CMO continues to own the customer across all channels—as well as the data that drives the business—the CMO quickly becomes a logical person to own the company’s growth agenda in the CEO role,” said Deloitte Consulting principal David Shrank. “Transforming a company or reversing slumping sales requires what I call ‘journey thinking’—the act of looking at your entire company from the mind-set of your customers and understanding each of these unique customer journeys in ways that allow you to make the most of every touch point.”

Cross-Departmental Collaboration

To best serve the customer, marketers have to first get to know their colleagues.

“How do you deliver better outcomes for customers?” GE SVP and CMO Beth Comstock asked. “You have to wrap yourself around the way your customer’s company operates. You have to understand the journey from the CFO’s office, the CEO’s office, the CMO… the entire C-suite.”

“Marketing is a great training ground as you develop key skills that are needed in a CEO role,” said thinkThin president/CEO Michele Kessler. “In many marketing roles, you have to demonstrate results and to accomplish results requires leadership across the enterprise. Many functions work primarily within-function; marketing can’t.”

Data-Driven ROI

In the old days, part of the skepticism around turning over the keys to a CMO would have been based on the idea that a chief marketer was mostly a creative, better with ads and fonts than dollars and cents. Today’s marketer, of course, looks pretty different.

“I like to say that marketing today is 30 percent traditional marketing, 30 percent IT, 30 percent analytics, and 10 percent politics,” said Club Med CMO Jerome Hiquet.

In such a data-driven, results-oriented era, there is much more of an overlap in skill sets between CMO and the ideal CEO.

Agility

Even for (perhaps especially for) well-established giants in a given industry, complacency is a fatal disease. The so-called “transformational” CMO is used to moving quickly, to embracing new platforms, to experimenting, to failing and learning and trying again. Even without an office change and a pay raise, the CMO can still make a major impact by infusing this philosophy into the culture of the company.

Good Leaders are Good Leaders

Beyond emerging trends and role evolution, successful CMOs have always had at least one simple albeit powerful case to make for themselves: they’re proven leaders and team-builders who are (hopefully) smart enough to know what they don’t know.

“It’s not the ‘M’ in CMO that matters most. I think it’s how good a chief you are,” executive recruiter Nick Corcodilos told CMO.com.

The Trailblazers

A number of prominent executives have already made the leap from CMO to CEO. This seems to be a popular trend for luxury car companies; Audi president Scott Keough took the reins after years of serving as the company’s CMO, and ex-Mercedes CEO Steve Cannon (now the CEO of AMB Group LLC) made a similar jump.

They also share a similar philosophy that’s helped them move up the ladder.

“Keogh believes that a successful brand takes it own road, and he’s willing to gamble to prove it,” said Adweek.

“You have to adapt, to carve out money from mobile to serve social. You have to have a certain amount of risk appetite, take some strategic leaps of faith,” said Cannon. “All those things led me nicely into the corner office.”

Jill McDonald, former CEO of McDonald’s UK and CEO of biking giant Halfords, never set out to claim the corner office; she had her sights squarely on the CMO’s office. Once there, though, her colleagues began suggesting she could take another step.

“You own your future,” she told Marketing Week. “Build your experience, put your neck out [and] put yourself forward for projects outside your remit.” By breaking out of old-fashioned silos, modern marketers are learning more about business operations and forging relationships with collaborators across the org chart.

“Live in the horizontal, not the vertical,” advised Dodds.

A cautionary note, though: if you work for a company that considers marketing an afterthought, you’re not climbing the mountaintop.

“[You need to understand] which organisations value marketers and put them at the top table,” McDonald said. “McDonald’s values marketing very highly and therefore I was a key player on the board with a number of other colleagues. In other places, like British Airways, commercial was at the top table but marketing wasn’t, so that would make it even harder to get there.”

This article was originally posted on iMeet Central’s blog. To view the original blog post please click here

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Can Employees Really Give Managers Crucial Feedback Without Reprisal? https://www.pgi.com/blog/2016/11/can-employees-give-managers-feedback-without-reprisal/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2016/11/can-employees-give-managers-feedback-without-reprisal/#respond Wed, 09 Nov 2016 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/can-employees-give-managers-feedback-without-reprisal/ Employees are a sort of “case study” for a company. They can spread positive news about the business to their outer networks, provide valuable brand awareness and ultimately, keep the company honest in terms of leadership. Plenty of leaders encourage employees to speak up, give feedback, pitch new ideas or be a watchdog for unethical …

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Employees are a sort of “case study” for a company. They can spread positive news about the business to their outer networks, provide valuable brand awareness and ultimately, keep the company honest in terms of leadership. Plenty of leaders encourage employees to speak up, give feedback, pitch new ideas or be a watchdog for unethical behavior. But can employees actually take the encouragement to voice their opinion at face value or is it all for show?

According to research done by Ethan Burris, “Managers view employees who engage in more challenging forms of voice as worse performers and endorse their ideas less than those who engage in supportive forms of voice.” In layman’s terms, the more you challenge authority, the less likely you will be perceived positively by your supervisor.

In ongoing research that is still being conducted by Harvard Business Review researchers, evidence has been found that supervisor retaliation can go beyond the boundaries of just having a negative attitude toward an employee that speaks against them in any sort of negative way. In their recent study, researchers examined the question of whether these employees who utilize their right of encouraged constructive criticism are confronted with more abusive leadership instead of positive response.

The researchers conducted a web-based survey asking employees to invite a coworker familiar with their work to participate as well. The employees then answers questions about how negative or “abusive” their managers were, while the coworkers answered questions about how much “constructive resistance” the employees showed toward that supervisor.

“Our analyses (while controlling for differences in education and industry) revealed that the more that employees were perceived by coworkers to show constructive resistance towards their supervisors, the more likely the employees were to rate their supervisors on a validated scale as showing abusive behavior towards them. Examples of abusive behavior included asking whether their supervisor ridiculed them, were rude, invaded their privacy, or gave them the silent treatment,” said David De Cremer, one of the four researchers conducting the study.

Through this ongoing research, the team found some key takeaways for both managers and employees to use while approaching the sensitive topic of feedback:

Managers:

Actively embrace constructive criticism. Make it known that are you are good on your word of accepting feedback on your performance. Lack of communication can cause issues to blow out of proportion, often leading to tense conversations that could result in negative backlash.

Second, keep your emotions in check. While this is difficult to do if you are feeling threatened, this outside perspective on your performance could really be eye opening, but it is important also to ensure your point of view is interjected as well. Just keep the negativity in check.

Last, be cognizant of cultural differences. According to the research team, “In some cultures, speaking directly is the norm; in others, people will say nothing but still mean something. In some cultures, for example, subordinates may not challenge leaders openly but may still disagree with you. In others, a blunt critique may just be the start of a good discussion.”

Employees:

First, you need to build trust by being a top performer at your job. In any other circumstance to gain authority on a subject or topic, you would be well researched and rehearsed before speaking, right? Earning your boss’s trust works the same way. If you are an efficient employee who is constantly looking for ways to improve yourself and your team, your boss is going to trust your insights on their performance as well.

If feedback is not exchanged as early as possible, tensions can rise, resulting in abusive responses from leadership. Be confident in your abilities to constructively give criticism where it is due. And finally, remain in control of your emotions as well. As professionals, both managers and employees should take criticism as a learning opportunity, not one that divides teams.

Communication is good for ALL aspects of business, especially when it comes to building trust and establishing loyalty on a team. Managers, regardless of your seniority, can learn from their subordinates; and in turn, employees can learn from their managers on how to candidly and appropriately address criticism without reprisal.

Want to learn more about teamwork and communication? Check out these related articles below:

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How to Build Trust on Virtual Teams https://www.pgi.com/blog/2016/06/build-trust-virtual-teams/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2016/06/build-trust-virtual-teams/#respond Thu, 09 Jun 2016 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/build-trust-virtual-teams/ Remember the trust falls you used to do as a team-building exercise at summer camp? Now imagine the people catching you in a trust fall are people you’ve never met in real life. You probably wouldn’t feel too safe stepping off that ledge. When it comes to virtual relationships, establishing trust can be incredibly difficult, …

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Remember the trust falls you used to do as a team-building exercise at summer camp? Now imagine the people catching you in a trust fall are people you’ve never met in real life. You probably wouldn’t feel too safe stepping off that ledge. When it comes to virtual relationships, establishing trust can be incredibly difficult, but for remote workers, building trust on a virtual team is a crucial element to ensuring your team’s success. So how do you build trust amongst virtual colleagues?

Though fostering trust between your virtual team members might seem like a near-impossibility, if managers are proactive at the outset, virtual teams can build professional relationships founded on trust and a common goal. These tips on building trust between remote team members will give you all the information you need to guarantee that your virtual team works in harmony from the start.

1.) Rely on the Swift Trust Theory

Swift trust is a type of trust that occurs in temporary organization structures where teams are, by nature, forced to assume trust right off the bat and then verify and re-adjust their trust beliefs as time progresses. Swift trust is commonly utilized in industries like the entertainment industry where crew members are thrown together and expected to work cohesively as a unit from the outset with little to no introduction.

When people are assembled and asked to work as a team, there is a strong proclivity to give others the benefit of the doubt. Utilize swift trust on your remote teams; challenge your virtual team members and give them the opportunity to problem-solve together. When team members are united by a singular purpose, swift trust rapidly transforms into a deeper, more meaningful bond.

2.) Make Trust-Building a Point from the Start

When your team is already established and settled into comfortable patterns of behavior and interaction, it can be difficult to build trust. Make a point of encouraging team members to build social capital early on, even if it’s a brief ten minute chat at the start of a project kick-off meeting where team members can swap personal stories.

3.) Set Aside Time for Storytelling

When you remove team members from the close physical proximity of the office, the natural social bonding that occurs in the workplace falls by the wayside. Encourage your team members to build social capital in a virtual setting. With strong social bonds come more trust and, as a result, a more harmonious team effort.

4.) Emphasize Similarities between Team Members

We are naturally inclined to trust people with whom we share similar interests and opinions. Virtual teams don’t organically provide much opportunity for unearthing interpersonal commonalities so, to help your team build trust, make time for those similarities to come to light.

Start your virtual meetings with a personal question for the team to answer, like the best movie they’ve seen recently or their biggest pet peeve. With more opportunity to share personal details, interpersonal connections (and trust) will abound.

5.) Communicate Regularly

In a global study conducted focusing on communication and trust in virtual teams, researchers demonstrated that, when it comes to dispersed teams, the ones that were lacking in trust were also the same teams where communication was neither predictable nor regular.

The study revealed that, on high trust teams, communication was regular and predictable and all team members participated equally in said communication. Make sure your virtual team members communicate often (and in equal measure), and trust will grow over time.

 

There’s simply no way around it — successful teams are teams that share unequivocal trust. Though virtual teams might experience some added obstacles when building trust, with the proper attitude and a conscious effort, virtual team members can foster a sense of trust and unity that rivals the best of their non-remote counterparts.

For more on team building, check out PGi’s “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work” eBook.

 

Related Posts:

6 Ways to Inspire and Motivate Virtual Teams

How to Build Effective Virtual Teams

Providing a Collaborate Edge for Remote and In-Person Teams

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6 Ways to Transform Conflict into Effective Communication https://www.pgi.com/blog/2016/05/6-ways-transform-conflict-effective-communication/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2016/05/6-ways-transform-conflict-effective-communication/#respond Tue, 24 May 2016 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/6-ways-transform-conflict-effective-communication/ No matter how amenable your workplace is, conflict is bound to arise from time-to-time. When strong minds and bold personalities are involved, it seems only natural that conflict would come up in situations where people feel passionate about what they do. Conflict doesn’t have to be a negative thing, but it can turn ugly very …

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No matter how amenable your workplace is, conflict is bound to arise from time-to-time. When strong minds and bold personalities are involved, it seems only natural that conflict would come up in situations where people feel passionate about what they do. Conflict doesn’t have to be a negative thing, but it can turn ugly very quickly if the situation isn’t handled correctly and proper techniques for conflict resolution aren’t utilized.

Good leaders know how to properly utilize conflict for growth. If you shy away from confrontation, you might actually be making things worse. Rather than resisting conflict, learn how to lean into it and approach confrontation with a positive attitude. You might be surprised at just how quickly you can transform conflict into effective communication with the proper approach.

If conflict resolution isn’t your strong suit, consider these six tips for managing conflict with poise.

  1. Take a Time Out

Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing gives one so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” Though it might be your natural reaction to want to resolve things on the spot, sometimes taking a breather is the best thing you can do when managing a terse situation. There’s a time for resolving conflict and that time is most certainly not when tensions (and tempers) are running high. Call for a time out and let everyone cool off a bit. You’ll probably be surprised at just how quickly things get resolved when you remove fickle emotions from the equation.

  1. Focus on What Your Opponent is Saying Instead of Planning Your Rebuttal

Just because you’re in the middle of a conflict doesn’t mean that lines of communication should break down. The worst disservice you can do to your opponent (and to yourself) in a conflict is to stop listening. Rather than tuning out your opponent’s reasoning in order to plan your rebuttal, focus on what he or she has to say. Empathy goes a long way in conflict resolution and trying to understand your opponent’s point of view might give you valuable insight into how best to resolve the problem so both parties are happy.

  1. Avoid the Blame Game

Throwing around blame will only make conflict worse. No matter who did what, everyone involved bears responsibility in making sure the conflict is resolved maturely. Avoid placing blame and the conflict will get resolved that much more quickly.

  1. Remember that Leadership and Conflict Resolution Go Hand-in-Hand

Don’t fear conflict, embrace it. You might think avoiding conflict is the way to make your business run smoothly but great leaders know that you can’t escape conflict, so you might as well learn how best to manage and resolve it. Just as healthy fighting is crucial to a great romantic relationship, understanding how to manage conflict in the workplace instead of stifling it is key to fostering a healthy work environment for employees.

  1. Attack the Problem, Not the Person

When dealing with conflict, it’s essential to remember that you are frustrated at the issue at hand and not at the person involved. When venting your frustration, focus your irritation towards the problem, not the person.

  1. View Conflict as Opportunity

Conflict occurs because there is a flaw in the system or a breakdown in communication. Addressing the issues behind any given conflict is essential to ensuring that your business flows smoothly and everyone communicates effectively. Avoid conflict for the sake of conflict and choose your battles wisely. The conflicts that arise after that will facilitate positive professional growth.

Conflict is an unavoidable facet of problem solving. Learning to deal with conflicts in the workplace is essential for anyone looking to communicate effectively with coworkers and superiors. Utilize these tips and you might be surprised to find just how quickly conflicts are resolved when everyone involved keeps a cool head and works together to solve the problem.

Related Articles

Building a Collaborative Environment for Different Personalities

The Workplace Ecosystem

7 Telecommuting Personalities – Which One Are You?

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3 Sayings That Have Helped Shape My Career As CEO https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/10/3-sayings-that-have-helped-shape-my-career-as-ceo/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/10/3-sayings-that-have-helped-shape-my-career-as-ceo/#respond Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/3-sayings-that-have-helped-shape-my-career-as-ceo/ When you work in business as long as I have, you pick up a lot of sayings, clichés, idioms, what have you that can be useful to drive points home or make analogies. Some get practically beaten to a pulp (No one’s “thinking outside the box” anymore), but others can really stick with you and …

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When you work in business as long as I have, you pick up a lot of sayings, clichés, idioms, what have you that can be useful to drive points home or make analogies. Some get practically beaten to a pulp (No one’s “thinking outside the box” anymore), but others can really stick with you and ultimately start shaping who you are as a professional.

Maybe it’s due to being a child from Kentucky, but I’ve always loved leaning on some of the sayings I’ve picked up over the years. I honestly can’t remember whether these were said to me or whether I conjured them myself, but regardless I’d like to share with you three sayings that have helped shape my career:

1) Be right, be wrong, but never be in doubt.

Confidence is a powerful force. While often mistaken for arrogance, I’ve found that living a confident life can take you very far both personally and professionally.

Ultimately, confidence is about being able to commit to things and not let fear hinder your ability to make decisions and execute on new ideas. Are you going to fail sometimes? Of course! We all do. But every failure is a learning opportunity, and no one’s found success by merely riding the fence. You’ve got to pick a direction and run in it.

[Tweet “Be right, be wrong, but never be in doubt.”]

2) A finish line is just a moment.

If you want to better yourself, whether it’s personally or professionally, you need to accept a simple truth: every finish line is just a moment. A happy moment, a celebratory moment? Of course. But a moment is all it is. Give it its due fanfare, then start work on finding the next mountain to climb.

Throughout my career, I’ve always chased that next challenge—it’s one of the primary drivers behind my entrepreneurial spirit. Whether it’s starting a new company, building and launching new products or simply reimagining how we operate, I never allow myself much time to rest. You can never let yourself get lulled into professional complacency by thinking that if you could just get over that next horizon, you can let yourself rest. The truly successful never rest; they merely take a breath while already planning their next race.

[Tweet “A finish line is just a moment.”]

3) Sometimes you’ve got to touch the stove.

(Please don’t take this one literally.)

I’ve always tried to push the boundaries when building companies and testing out new ideas, products and strategies. Sometimes you know deep in your heart that something is likely not going to work but you’ve just got to try. You have to test the edges. You know the stove is going to be hot, but curiosity gets the better of you and you touch it anyways.

You may not always get burned, but if you do then you’ve learned something about yourself and your ideas. And learning is the name of the game, folks; every decision you ever make in life will be shaped by what you’ve learned from your past failures and successes. I still learn new things every single day I come into the office.

[Tweet “Sometimes you’ve got to touch the stove.”]

I hope you’ve found these sayings useful. While some of you may regard them as kitschy, there are deep-rooted truths behind some of the clichés we turn to that can often get overlooked.

Do you have favorite sayings of your own, ones that have helped shape your life? Share them with me in the comments below or tweet me @bolandjones.

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Get Positive or Get Out: The Power of Workplace Positivity https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/09/get-positive-or-get-out-the-power-of-workplace-positivity/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/09/get-positive-or-get-out-the-power-of-workplace-positivity/#respond Wed, 09 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/get-positive-or-get-out-the-power-of-workplace-positivity/ I have a saying I like to use in the workplace from time to time. Or, rather, it’d be more accurate to say I have a saying that I like to paraphrase: “Get positive, or get the [redacted] out.” I used to have this written on the board in my office but it turned a …

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I have a saying I like to use in the workplace from time to time. Or, rather, it’d be more accurate to say I have a saying that I like to paraphrase:

“Get positive, or get the [redacted] out.”

I used to have this written on the board in my office but it turned a few too many heads.

In all seriousness, however, I’m a firm believer in the power of positivity in the workplace. Our attitudes can affect so much, from productivity and collaboration to career advancement and team dynamics, that it cannot be overlooked.

Now, I’m also nothing if not a realist. I’m not saying that you should plaster on a fake smile every single day. Sometimes work is frustrating, or difficult, or your heart simply isn’t in it, and you shouldn’t ignore those feelings in favor of blind optimism.

However, what you can do, when presented with the right environment, is make the choice to approach work with a positive spirit and make a concerted effort to shed negativity and nay-saying.

Here are a few areas where I believe having a positive attitude will benefit you at work:

Meetings and Collaboration

Meetings are a fact of life in any workplace. You have to be able to collaborate with others at one point or another in order to get things done. However, there are a lot of common negativity traps around meetings that are easy to fall into:

  • The Nay-Sayer – This meeting participant is always quick to tell others why their ideas won’t work, without offering any viable solutions or alternatives.
  • The Monopolizer – Regardless of how many voices are in the room, this person wants to be the only one that gets heard.
  • The Interrupter – This person’s ideas are more important than yours, and they’ll gladly cut you off to make that clear.

None of these approaches is necessarily catastrophically bad, but none is particularly productive either. Instead, try to approach meetings from a place of teamwork and encouragement rather than combativeness. When everyone’s ideas have a place at the table, the final product will be better for it.

Management (and being managed)

Everyone is going to have their own preferences about how they want to be managed and mentored. However, I try to always begin by teaching and encouraging rather than criticizing, even if the conversation I need to have is of a negative nature. Some situations may dictate a heavier hand, but there are few things in the workplace that can’t effectively be resolved with an open, honest and positive conversation about what needs to be improved and why.

On the flipside as a managee, understanding how to take criticism with a positive attitude, viewing things as an opportunity to improve rather than a slap on the wrist, is key to maintaining morale and productivity even in the face of a potentially less-than-ideal performance on your part. Take the feedback, internalize it and then face tomorrow with the knowledge that you can and will do better.

Team Projects

Similarly to meetings, working on a team is a fact of worklife for many of us, and just like any relationship, team dynamics need to be positively nurtured if they’re going to be long-lasting. And nowhere are the effects of those relationships felt more strongly than in a pressing team project, where different pieces and parts have to be masterfully choreographed if deadlines are going to be met.

In the heat of a pressing delivery date, it’s easy for team dynamics to become frayed; one party might feel they have an undue share of the burden, or fingers might start getting pointed if a delay seems inevitable. It’s important to remember though that it’s not about 100% equality in workload or everything always going according to plan, it’s about working together as a unit to achieve a common goal. Yes, you might have to shoulder more of the workload on a particular project, but do it with the attitude that your teammate is likely be in the same boat on the next one.

“Team spirit” often feels like a concept that belongs more in a pep rally than the office, but the idea is still valuable if it teaches us to work together graciously.

I’m by no means always positive while I’m at work, nor do I expect you to be. However I do still always make the effort to approach things in a positive way, regardless of how tired or frustrated I am. It’s not always easy, but bettering oneself rarely is. Try putting a positive spin on your worklife, and I promise you’ll find yourself happier, more productive and more collaborative.

For more insights from Sean, check out his latest article for Switch & Shift: “The Double-Edged Sword of Teamwork.”

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Who owns innovation? https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/08/who-owns-innovation/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/08/who-owns-innovation/#respond Tue, 18 Aug 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/who-owns-innovation/ Everyone’s talking about innovation. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or who you’re selling it to, every company wants to be perceived as the innovator in their space. And the tech media is always heralding a new innovative idol, the next visionary that will change the very landscape of their respective industry. All of this …

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Everyone’s talking about innovation. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or who you’re selling it to, every company wants to be perceived as the innovator in their space. And the tech media is always heralding a new innovative idol, the next visionary that will change the very landscape of their respective industry.

All of this focus on the lone-wolf tech genius has created a perception that innovation “belongs” to a select few, or that only a narrow group is capable of producing truly innovative ideas.

However, I believe that innovation doesn’t truly “belong” to anyone. It shouldn’t be the purview of a dedicated group of “innovators.” Rather, it’s the product of a collaborative environment where everyone in your organization, from the bottom to the top, is encouraged to create and share new ideas for products, services, features or even just internal processes.

Stop Siloing Innovation

You might think that every company has a secluded group somewhere that spends its day trying to come up with the “next big thing,” and maybe some of them do. Full disclosure, PGi does have a dedicated “Innovation Lab,” a lean group that was created in order to have the leeway to operate outside of the traditional bounds of our existing products and business models.

However, in spite of the name, the Innovation Lab wasn’t created as a means of segmenting innovation into a single space. It’s by no means a silo. In fact, the creation the Lab is a reflection of our dedication to creating a culture of innovation across all of PGi. Innovation at PGi can come from any direction at any time. We have feedback loops and internal communications mechanisms in place that allow anyone in any role to submit an idea they have about our products, services or the business at large.

What we’re ultimately trying to avoid is the creation of barriers to collaboration and between groups that hinder, if not prevent outright, the sharing of ideas and work between them. Siloes are innovation’s kryptonite, and they fly in the face of the very idea of pushing boundaries and forging new ideas.

“Doers” and “Thinkers”

Due to traditional roles in business, particularly within larger companies, it’s easy for your employees to become segmented into groups of “doers” and “thinkers.” One group is responsible for cooking up the ideas, while the other is tasked with bringing those ideas to life. This setup creates a philosophy where innovation and ideation are just steps in a process rather the common threads that tie together everything that your organization does.

Let me be clear on something however: none of this is to say that innovation should happen haphazardly. Any idea, whether born from innovation or not, has to be tested against the customer and their unique pain points and needs, regardless of whether the “customer” in this sense is your actual buyers or your internal constituency. But, truly innovative ideas don’t necessarily have to rock the world. Instead, they can simply be a new way of doing things, a faster and more efficient process or a better end result for your customers.

And those ideas can come from anywhere. Make sure you’re setting yourself up to capture them.

For more insights from Boland, visit his monthly column on Entrepreneur.com.

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Want to get ahead at work? Embrace the fear https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/07/get-ahead-at-work-embrace-the-fear/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/07/get-ahead-at-work-embrace-the-fear/#respond Mon, 20 Jul 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/get-ahead-at-work-embrace-the-fear/ People ask me all the time how to get ahead at work. They want to take that next leap, rise above the crowd and get the attention of the powers that be to make that next career move. They crave success. I was once asked at a speaking event if there was some silver bullet …

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People ask me all the time how to get ahead at work. They want to take that next leap, rise above the crowd and get the attention of the powers that be to make that next career move. They crave success.

I was once asked at a speaking event if there was some silver bullet to my success over the years.

My answer? Fear.

One of the key pieces of advice I always try to give those who come to me for career help is that they have to embrace their fear. Whether it’s the fear of failure, fear of judgment from your peers, fear of letting someone down or just the fear of looking dumb, fear isn’t an obstacle. It’s an opportunity.

Here are three ways that fear is actually one of your strongest allies, and why embracing it can propel your career skyward:

Fear keeps you from getting complacent.

If you’re looking to take the next step in your career, the worst thing you can become is complacent. We find ourselves in an intensely competitive market today. Whether you’re an entrepreneur running a business or an employee within a larger organization, you can never allow yourself to get comfortable, lest a new business venture or tenacious employee come along with their eyes on your prize.

The fear that keeps us looking over our shoulder—not paranoia, mind you, but something more akin to reconnaissance—helps us stay at the top of our game. Without any sort of pressure to excel, you can find yourself stuck in a rut, which is another way that your career can stagnate.

Fear motivates you.

The fact that you’re already driven to take that next career move means your motivation is in a healthy place. But did you ever stop and think about what the source of your motivation actually is? You might find the answer surprising.

For example, growing up as one of seven kids, I was constantly challenged by my successful siblings (and parents, for that matter). A lot of the ambition that has driven my career can be traced back to those days around the dinner table where we all shared what we’d learned or accomplished that day. The fear of being overshadowed and the drive to stand out sparked my competitive spirit and always pushed me to better myself and to learn new skills.

The source of your motivation may be similarly fear-driven. Regardless of its origin—of not making enough money, of letting your family or friends down, of disappointing your coworkers or superiors—fear can be a healthy catalyst for work motivation.

Fear can focus you on the bigger picture.

Transforming yourself from a tactical thinker into a strategic one is a key moment in anyone’s career development. Being able to see and act on the bigger picture, the long-term plan rather than the day-to-day, is one of the most important differentiators the higher you climb the career ladder.

Leveraging fear can be an integral part of any strategic decision-making. You have to be able to predict the things that could go wrong, and prepare yourself, your team or your project to adapt to them as they arise. Let that fear be your compass, and use it to help yourself plan for every eventuality and edge case.

Who Does Fear Work For?

In reality, the answer is not to be fearless. None of us is; we’re not superheroes.

Instead, it’s about turning fear into an ally, creating an environment for yourself where fear works for you, rather than you living your life ruled by that fear.

Ultimately, I truly believe that fear, drive, ambition and passion are all interconnected ideas. How can fear be a negative if it’s what drives you to greatness?

Fear can be your best friend, but only if you let it.

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Signs You Might Have a Company Culture Problem — And How to Fix Them https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/07/signs-you-might-have-a-company-culture-problem/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/07/signs-you-might-have-a-company-culture-problem/#respond Wed, 01 Jul 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/signs-you-might-have-a-company-culture-problem/ When is the last time you gave your company culture a checkup? The culture of your organization shapes the experience of everyone in it, so the last thing you want is for a problem to take root and start growing without you noticing. But too often companies will leave their culture to develop on its …

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When is the last time you gave your company culture a checkup?

The culture of your organization shapes the experience of everyone in it, so the last thing you want is for a problem to take root and start growing without you noticing. But too often companies will leave their culture to develop on its own. And that opens the door for unwanted negativity to creep in.

A poor culture can hurt your workforce. Productivity, camaraderie, and retention all suffer when the workplace environment doesn’t positively engage your employees. And unfortunately, Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report unveiled a sobering fact: a whopping 64% of employees don’t feel like they have a strong work culture.

Here are the signs that your culture is ailing, and how you can take steps to cure it.

Nonexistent Values

First, check and make sure the people in your organization know its values. Values are what guide your operations and shape your identity, and a company that doesn’t know its own values won’t be able to develop the culture it wants. If the people in your organization don’t know the values — and the TINYpulse Employee Engagement Survey revealed that over half of employees don’t — you could end up with a culture where people prioritize the wrong principles and even work against each other.

It’s not enough to just pick some pretty-sounding words and write them on your website. Leadership needs to model them for the rest of your organization. Identify the values that you want to guide your company. Then commit to following them.

Us vs. Them

Do your employees treat each other as colleagues or as competition? There should be regular collaboration and respect across within and across all teams. When employees are working against each other, constantly butting heads, or trying to sabotage one another, it harms both their happiness and your business.

According to SHRM, the relationship with coworkers is a more important factor in employee engagement than the relationship with immediate supervisors. Our own findings confirm that — employees told us that their peers are the number one reason they go the extra mile.

That’s why it’s vital to evaluate candidates on whether they’ll be a positive addition to your culture. Will they mesh well with others in your organization? Remember that skills can be taught. Personality can’t.

Leaders With Zipped Lips

If your leaders keep information from their employees, then you have a problem. It’s tempting to assume that keeping information on a need-to-know basis will protect the company or keep employees from worrying, but that kind of secrecy does more harm than good.  A culture defined by secrecy isn’t healthy for anyone. Employees operate with uncertainty and even fear, and the company is run by the rumor mill rather than its leaders.

Our Employee Engagement Survey showed that transparency is the number one factor contributing to employee happiness. So make transparent communication a priority for your leadership. Share updates on a regular basis, ideally through in-person meetings.

Yes, this can mean letting employees know if the company is experiencing difficulties. But being kept in the dark causes way more anxiety than just knowing what the bad news is. Letting employees know what’s really going on shows that you respect them and helps them make informed decisions.

Failure to Listen

Do your employees give you honest feedback? If you don’t have a clear and accessible way for employees to have their say, your culture will feel more like a dictatorship than a company. Only when employees know that they can have their input taken seriously will they feel like a valued part of the organization.

And unfortunately, it doesn’t work to just say you have an open-door policy. You have to be proactive about seeking out feedback and making employees feel safe about giving it. That means adopting a variety of strategies for communicating with your workers. Leaving your door open (figuratively or literally) is just step one. Ask for their feedback in one-on-one meetings with their supervisors. Use frequent surveys to keep track of employee sentiment.

But that’s not all. BlessingWhite found that asking for feedback and not doing anything about it is even worse for employee morale than not taking feedback at all. So commit the time and resources to act on the things your employees are telling you.

It’s important to regularly assess your culture to make sure none of these problems have snuck in. But by using open communication, fostering camaraderie, and living your values, you can keep your company’s culture healthy and thriving.

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4 Tips For Becoming a Better Leader in Your Workplace https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/06/4-tips-for-becoming-a-better-leader-in-your-workplace/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/06/4-tips-for-becoming-a-better-leader-in-your-workplace/#respond Fri, 12 Jun 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/4-tips-for-becoming-a-better-leader-in-your-workplace/ When you read this – LEADER What is the first thing that pops into your head? Wait, let me guess. You’re picturing someone in front of a crowd. They’re probably wearing a suit? Maybe you see the CEO of a public company. Obama? Taylor Swift? The Pope? An endless combination of different personal experiences and …

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When you read this – LEADER

What is the first thing that pops into your head?

Wait, let me guess.

You’re picturing someone in front of a crowd. They’re probably wearing a suit? Maybe you see the CEO of a public company. Obama? Taylor Swift? The Pope?

An endless combination of different personal experiences and beliefs provides everyone with their own unique face to match the title of “leader”, but no matter who it is that you’re thinking of, there’s a good chance that your idea of what a leader should look like is too complex.

Whether it’s Martin Luther King Jr, Tim Cook, or Malala Yousafzai—all of whom could be easily identified as phenomenal leaders—they only account for the tippy top of a very large iceberg.

To be a leader you do not have to give profound speeches, or inspire hundreds of people. You don’t even have to own a fancy suit. According to the wise words of Michael McKinney:

“Leadership is intentional influence.”

Influence, however, can develop from both the positive and negative end of the leadership spectrum. For example, there have been countless leaders throughout history who have come to power through questionable methods, and you’ll always be able to find a stereotypical high school bully with an entourage of loyal goons. Regardless, the psychology of leadership is extremely fascinating. You may not consider yourself to be a leader, but whether you’re a part of a team, a family, or even a group of strangers, the energy you emit plays a vital role in influencing those around you.

So keep this in mind as you read the following 4 tips to help you become a better and more positive leader in your workplace.

 

  1. Don’t complain.

There are generally two common reactions to hearing others complain. It either opens up the doors for a collaborative venting session, or a wave of undisclosed eye rolls. Whether it’s today’s traffic or the deadline you’re struggling to hit, everyone else is most likely in the same boat, but instead just choosing not to voice their opinions about it. A grumble every once in a while is tolerable, and a healthy stress reliever. But generally, excessive complaining does nothing but generate an irritable tension that will turn people away from you and your bum attitude.

“Complaining without proposing a solution is called whining.” –Theodore Roosevelt

 

  1. Learn what it means to be the lone nut, or an effective follower.

Leadership is often over-glorified. The role of a “follower” is sometimes just as crucial as the initial lead. I stumbled upon a video the other day of a man dancing alone at a music festival. The person filming probably hoped to capture a new YouTube hit of a bizarre man making a fool of himself, but little did they know that only after a couple of minutes, another man would join in. His daring effort transformed a small spectacle into what would soon stimulate a much larger movement. In less than three minutes, an entire crowd had formed around the original “lone nut,” and as the mob multiplied, people began joining in simply to avoid sitting alone.

If a leader is the flint, then the first couple of followers are the sparks that really get the fire blazing. In reality, an effective follower can transforms a “lone nut” into a leader.

 

  1. Value others above yourself— a great leader is willing to be little.

Have you ever met someone who genuinely compliments you? Not as an awkward small talk filler, or a quick “I like your shoes” in the break room, but someone who really lifts you up, and makes you feel special?

Well, the ability to make others feel important comes from a sense of humility and an honest belief in the value of other people. It’s not an easy quality to develop as a leader, but the more you exercise putting others first, the more they will trust you in return.

 

  1. Ultimately, people follow other people—not ideas or businesses.

People naturally gravitate towards other people. In the video I told you about, I’m sure that those first followers didn’t get up and subject themselves to humiliation because they particularly enjoyed the first guy’s dance moves, but rather they admired his spontaneity and lack of inhibition.

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” John Maxwell

The bottom line is that leadership is not a fancy title or position but an action. So get out there, spread some positivity, and bust a move—literally or metaphorically, whatever floats your boat.

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3 Ways to Elevate Yourself at Work https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/06/3-ways-to-elevate-yourself-at-work/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/06/3-ways-to-elevate-yourself-at-work/#respond Wed, 10 Jun 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/3-ways-to-elevate-yourself-at-work/ I constantly challenge my team to elevate themselves professionally. I want them to bring new, innovative and even disruptive ideas to the table in addition to their regularly scheduled responsibilities. I want them to feel comfortable trying things, even if they fail, so that we can all learn together. I want them to minimize their …

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I constantly challenge my team to elevate themselves professionally. I want them to bring new, innovative and even disruptive ideas to the table in addition to their regularly scheduled responsibilities. I want them to feel comfortable trying things, even if they fail, so that we can all learn together. I want them to minimize their busy work and maximize their truly impactful contributions to our organization.

I firmly believe that this is critically important to the careers and professional development of all employees at any company. But it can often be a difficult nut to crack. In today’s action-oriented workplace, how do you find the time to rise above the day-to-day and start exploring your true potential?

Let’s look at 3 ways you can elevate yourself at work, sending your career possibilities skyward:

Think Strategically Instead of Tactically

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in your career, especially when you’re first starting out, is spending 100% of your time thinking tactically. For young professionals, it’s often all they can do to keep up with their day-to-day responsibilities, leaving little time for professional reflection and deeper, longer-term understanding of the impact of their work.

But once you feel you’ve got a handle on the execution, you need to practice and demonstrate the ability to think strategically in order to get ahead in your career. The ability to think strategically, focusing on “thinking” instead of just “doing,” is what separates out the future leaders of an organization.

More books have been written on this subject than I can count, and I could toss out any number of time-worn clichés about thinking outside boxes and seeing big pictures. Instead, here are a few first steps toward strategic thinking that can help you get started:

  • Research your company, industry and competitors to better understand the strategic landscape you’re working within.
  • Organize your efforts within the larger team and company. Where does your work fit into the company’s overall goals?
  • Reflect on what you learn on a daily basis, and keep notes on the insights you glean from your colleagues and superiors.

Learn to Play Well With Others

Regardless of your role or team structure, there’s a common thread that connects all employees and businesses in today’s work environment: collaboration. Everyone has to work with others in order to be successful, whether it’s colleagues, vendors or clients. Successful collaborators are more visible within an organization and are much more likely to be elevated throughout their careers.

It also exposes you to a wider variety of workstyles, expertise and opinions, allowing you to soak up the insights of others and use them to broaden your own knowledge.

The best way to become a better collaborator is to remember that everyone collaborates differently. Identifying your own unique collaboration style is one of the keys to your professional development. It allows you to play to your strengths and work with others in a way that’s most beneficial for everyone involved.

Make Yourself Known

Finally, if you’re really looking to get ahead, people need to be looking for you. You need to be comfortable asserting yourself, making your contributions and knowledge known and expanding your sphere of influence. This is not a question of extroverts vs. introverts; it’s about confidence and willingness.

In essence, it’s about making yourself known, which can take any number of forms:

  • Engage in email discussions or comment threads, but only when you have something meaningful to add. Constantly chiming in with “I agree!” does little to help you stand out.
  • Meet regularly with your manager or other mentor about your aspirations and career path. Their experience is an invaluable tool that can help guide your decision making.
  • Attend trainings or other optional company events to demonstrate your commitment to improving both yourself and your organization.
  • If you feel you’re ready to take on a new project or responsibility, even if it’s outside your job description, have that discussion with your manager. Even if they turn you down, you’ve made it known that you’re ready and willing to tackle new things.

If you truly want to rise above, you have to be willing to challenge and change yourself. While everyone’s career path is different, these three key areas—strategy, collaboration and influence—are all essential steps along the path to professional elevation.

Agree? Disagree? I want to hear from you – tweet me @seanobr or leave a comment below.

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Which Came First: the Team or the Culture? https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/03/which-came-first-the-team-or-the-culture/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2015/03/which-came-first-the-team-or-the-culture/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/which-came-first-the-team-or-the-culture/ When interviewing potential new hires for my team, “culture” is a term that comes up quite often. Candidates (particularly younger candidates and Millennials) are very interested in a team’s culture and its impact on the work environment. And for HR and hiring managers, finding someone who is a good “cultural fit” is one of the …

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When interviewing potential new hires for my team, “culture” is a term that comes up quite often. Candidates (particularly younger candidates and Millennials) are very interested in a team’s culture and its impact on the work environment. And for HR and hiring managers, finding someone who is a good “cultural fit” is one of the most important yet difficult-to-define objectives in the hiring process.

How does your team’s culture look? How do you define it? And how do you know if someone is a good cultural fit for your team and your organization as a whole?

These questions got me thinking about a unique problem. I know that my team has a distinct culture, a personality of its own that distinguishes it from the other departments within PGi. And I know from experience that not everyone is a good fit for that culture, and that the friction created by a lack of cultural compatibility can often be too much for someone to overcome.

But which came first? Did the team grow a culture of its own over time, or is establishing the culture a necessary first step to creating the team?

Does the team beget the culture or does the culture beget the team?

Defining Culture

Let’s back up for a moment and take a look at what we mean by “team culture.” While there will always be a bit of team “je ne sais quois,” in many ways a team’s culture is defined by how it interacts and works both within itself and with other departments across an organization. The way your team communicates, collaborates, brainstorms, even laughs—all of these interactions will come to define both how your team performs and how it is perceived within the organization at large.

The key word here is “interacts.” Remember that when you’re putting a team together, you’re creating work relationships that will grow, change and be tested on a daily basis. If there are incompatibilities in the way team members interact with one another and they’re unable or unwilling to adapt to each other’s workstyles, those incompatibilities will ultimately be exposed by the nature of the team dynamic and could potentially break the group apart.

So…Which Comes First?

If we want to play the chicken and the egg game, the first possibility is that the team must exist first and the culture emerges over time. In this scenario, your parameters for creating a team are much more pragmatic: what is the team’s goal, what skillsets does the team need, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these are always important components to the process, but in this hypothetical example, they’re the only components you have to work with. It conjures images of the gritty police drama where a special detail is assembled from different departments and the personality clashes ensue immediately.

On the other hand, you may decide you want to try to define your culture before assembling your team. You have a concrete idea for the team environment you want to create, and you’re confident you can find the right people to bring that environment to life. However, the primary peril here is that you end up unnecessarily forcing team members into an unbendable cultural mold that you’ve created, narrowing your talent pool and leaving yourself with no room for growth and change.

In Reality, It’s About Flexibility

Reality, as it tends to be, is a little more nuanced. Your team and its culture are so indelibly linked to one another that one can’t exist independently. If you’re creating a new team, you need at least loose ideas for both, but with an attitude of flexibility; an absolute rockstar candidate shouldn’t be overlooked if they’re not a 100% perfect cultural fit, nor should a perfect cultural fit’s lack of experience be completely ignored.

Certain things can (and should) remain unwavering, like your team’s ultimate goals or mission statement. But even entire organizations evolve their culture over time as they learn more about how people work most productively and what yields the best results. You should approach team creation, building and nurturing in the same way: with an open mind and the ability to pivot and adapt your strategies and processes.

Remember, regardless of where you want to start, you can’t all-knowingly define what’s best from the beginning. Your team is a dynamic thing made up of dynamic individuals. Adaptability is the key to drawing the best out of your team, both culturally and professionally.

To learn more about creating, nurturing and finding success with your work team, download our latest free eBook “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.”

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How to be Present as a Virtual Manager https://www.pgi.com/blog/2014/05/present-virtual-manager/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2014/05/present-virtual-manager/#respond Tue, 06 May 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/present-virtual-manager/ I spent a large portion of my career as an individual contributor. But today I live and breathe collaboration, and the time I spend working with and managing my team of communicators here at PGi makes for some of the most rewarding moments in my day. Except here’s the rub: the other parts of my …

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I spent a large portion of my career as an individual contributor. But today I live and breathe collaboration, and the time I spend working with and managing my team of communicators here at PGi makes for some of the most rewarding moments in my day.

Except here’s the rub: the other parts of my job involve a great deal of travel and work away from our Atlanta headquarters. And my team also has the freedom to work remotely as their responsibilities and workload allow, much like the 70% of workers in our recent survey.

How do you effectively manage teleworkers, especially when you’re a teleworker too?

Trust – on Both Sides

Building an effective remote team hinges primarily on trust. It’s the trust that your workers are doing what you pay them to do, even if you’re not always there to check in. While a lot of the personality traits and behaviors required for telecommuting can be vetted during the hiring process, you never really know until someone comes on full-time whether their personality is a good teleworking fit. That level of trust is earned, and it’s earned over time.

But that street runs both ways. If you’re going to be an effective teleworking manager, your team needs to trust in you as well. They need to know that you’re still there to solve problems, break up workflow and political logjams and give direction as needed, whenever needed. If you’re not holding up your end of the bargain, the whole relationship falls apart—and it won’t be your team’s fault.

Setting the Standards

Regardless of your personal work style and methods, telecommuting is impossible if you’re not properly technologically equipped. Being able to sift through the noise of emails, texts, calls, calendar invites and meetings, all while working primarily away from a desk on a smartphone or tablet, can make it daunting simply getting your bearings, much less getting any work done.

Set the standards of efficiency and collaboration amongst your team. Utilize all of the tools your team is equipped with for remote collaboration, whether it’s file and document sharing, web conferencing, social business platforms or internal messaging and presence tools. Your team will look to you as the telecommuting example; if you want them using a tool, you better be prepared to master it yourself.

Keeping the Door Open

I try my best to keep an open door policy for my team. I, like most managers, keep a busy schedule; but if someone really needs me, they can pop by quickly for a chat.

Many people feel this experience is lost when you or your team (or both) are telecommuting, but it simply doesn’t have to be the case. There are any number of ways to reach me when I’m not in the office, thanks to how ubiquitous our smart mobile devices have become. Sending me a quick email is no different than poking your head in my door to see if I’m free. And I can easily answer a call or jump into my iMeet® room straight from my smartphone, maintaining the level of availability and accessibility I strive to offer my team and keeping the virtual door open, as it were.

Telecommuting is more than just sending an IM or email or jumping into a virtual meeting. It is a series of practices, processes and philosophies, on the parts of managers and employees that makes remote work possible.

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Ditch Best Practices for Best-for-You Practices https://www.pgi.com/blog/2014/04/ditch-best-practices-best-practices/ https://www.pgi.com/blog/2014/04/ditch-best-practices-best-practices/#respond Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://wwwpgi.wpengine.com/blog/ditch-best-practices-best-practices/ In my experience as an entrepreneur, business owner and CEO, I’ve found that business leaders tend to be passionate people. The concerns of our work keep us up at night. For me, I’m always on the lookout for the “boogie man,” the unforeseen disruptive technology that’s coming to steal our business away. Or are we …

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In my experience as an entrepreneur, business owner and CEO, I’ve found that business leaders tend to be passionate people. The concerns of our work keep us up at night. For me, I’m always on the lookout for the “boogie man,” the unforeseen disruptive technology that’s coming to steal our business away. Or are we creating our own boogie men without even realizing it? It can be maddening, and there’s always more work to do.

For many of us, we turn to the experts, the bloggers, speakers, book-writers, consultants and more, hunting for the best practices to shape and steer our business. We hope that somewhere out there, someone has all the answers to our questions.

Here’s a secret for you: no one does.

Sure, there are plenty of successful people in the world, such as serial entrepreneurs or investors that can seemingly do no wrong. But no one finds success without tasting plenty of failure along the way. Every one of us has made our share of mistakes, which often simply means we zigged when we should’ve zagged. The question you have to ask yourself is this: did you zig by choice, or did you ignore your gut at the behest of someone else?

Leverage the Expertise of Others – But Make Your Own Way

Don’t think that the irony of blogging about ignoring bloggers is lost on me. In today’s social, content-driven digital world, there’s an immense wealth of valuable information being shared. For first-time entrepreneurs, industry-hoppers or even seasoned business veterans, utilizing this information and basing your company policies on what’s worked for others is by no means a bad thing. But you can’t lose sight of your own knowledge or your own passion.

Remember: no one knows your business as well as you do. All the consultants in the world can’t bring to bear the intimate knowledge of your company culture the way that you can, and how all the elements of your business—culture, industry, market, goals, etc.—come together. Smart leaders have to know when to leverage experts but also when to ignore them, relying instead on their own best judgment to steer their ship.

Ditch the Best Practices

You can’t afford to be so reliant on the best practices of others that you become pigeon-holed and can’t find your own way. The thing about best practices is that they’re best until they’re not. Think about how quickly things change in today’s technologically driven society; yesterday’s best practice is today’s nonstarter. Instead, focus on crafting Best-for-You practices or Best-for-Your Business practices, even if they fly in the face of today’s rules of thumb.

Innovative leadership can be a scary thing, and a lot of that fear comes from challenging the status quo and the looks you get by ignoring what works for everyone else. But to succeed means to always question. Follow your passions and trust your own expertise—no matter the opinion of the “experts”.

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