REMOTE TEAM PRODUCTIVITY BOOSTS

REMOTE TEAM PRODUCTIVITY BOOSTS

Tips and Tricks to address

STRESS,  DISTRACTION and COLLABORATION

 

If you’re a Business Owner or Leader that is fortunate enough to have a business that offers a service that is needed right now and you are also able to offer that service over the phone or over the internet, then these 3 practices will help you to do that more successfully in these “COVID times”

We went from working in offices to working from home on mass in 3 weeks 

In North America we went from working in offices to working from home on mass in less than 3 weeks.  Some people arrived at work to be told that they were working from home starting the next day while others were given a bit more time as social distancing practises were put in place. Either way we collectively experienced massive change very abruptly and we humans do not always react well to this kind of change.

There has been more than 35 years of change management studies to draw on and they all agree that the success of a change initiative increases when there’s plenty of communication over a longer period of time and when people are given the opportunity to contribute to the change.  Unfortunately, COVID-19 didn’t get the memo.  So now we find ourselves dealing with the fall out of this massive change and the emotional chaos it’s brought up for everyone.

 

Collective Conscious 

Spend a few minutes on social or watch the news and there’s no missing the amount of fear that we’re collectively feeling right now.  We’re afraid of being infected, of running out of necessities, running out of money and a very uncertain future.  When us humans are in that kind of fear, our survival instincts kick in and we have one of 3 reactions:  Flight, Fight or Freeze or we cycle through all 3 of them over and over again.

Fear takes up 100% of our head space.  Our reaction is primal, and our physiological response is immediate – our blood rushes away from non-vital organs and our adrenaline kicks in so we’re ready for that fight or flight the moment it happens.

The Effects on Productivity

This affects us Business Owners and Leaders because even though our team has physically shown up on their computers to work, their brain capacity is focused on the fears.  This inability to concentrate is totally involuntary and not because they don’t want to.  In fact, I’m pretty sure most of us would be grateful for a distraction from the fear but our brain’s physiology won’t allow us.  Our brains are too busy being hyper vigilant, obsessing and assessing every little detail so we’re ready to run away or turn and fight for our lives unless we reduce that fear.

 

3 STEPS TO INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY

Step1:   REDUCE your Team’s FEAR

Dealing with the emotional response to these “COVID times” is the first step towards productivity.  Business has traditionally kept away from emotions.  That perspective is slowly changing as we accept that mental health has a huge impact on business results but for the most part Business Owners and Leaders have a difficult time dealing with these delicate subjects.  The idea of dealing with the volatile emotions that are coming up now leave many Leaders feeling unprepared, uncomfortable or even downright scared.  Yet, as a Leader, that is exactly what we are called to do right now.

Reduce the fear by following these 3 steps:

1. Acknowledge the Fears:  Acknowledge and allow your team to voice and air those fears. Remind them that their response is normal and physiologically programed into them.  Then;

2. Reassurance and a Plan: Provide them with reassurance and a path forward. Talk to them about what you need to do to serve your customers now, your vision of what you want your business to be post-COVID and ask them for their input.  When you do this, you provide your team with a more certain future and a purpose.  Both reduce fear.  Then;

3. Support: Give your team opportunities to support each other to achieve the vision you’re creating together.  Start a regular group meeting where everyone shares their biggest challenge and their biggest need.  Then encourage everyone to offer and give help by being a role model.  Doing this regularly will create a cooperative environment where everyone feels like they’re in it together.

Step 2: Address DISTRACTION

Read any article written in the past 5 years on work from home productivity and you’ll find a section on reducing distractions like household chores, procrastination time sucks like social media or computer games, and interruptions from family.

COVID’s contribution

COVID’s contribution to these productivity sucks is physical distancing where everyone has been sent home.  That means spouses, children, pets and sometimes extended family are all home at the same time and worse yet, they’re all bored.  Which means there’s very little private space, it’s noisier and there are more people at home vying for more of your time and attention.  Welcome to the new normal.

Give your team the tools and equipment they need to deal with these added distractions like:

  • Dedicated access to High speed internet
  • Whatever they need to set up a private workspace – from proper desks and chairs to partitions and noise cancelling headphones
  • Implement core office hours
  • Accept that distractions are the new normal and get your team’s input to a custom strategy to deal with it
  • Use online team meeting software like zoom or GoToMeeting to do frequent check-ins
  • Openly address family and home challenges
  • Support your team immediately when you see the need – no judgements just help

 

Step 3:  Increase COLLABORATION 

Once you have practices in place to deal with the fear and the distractions, then you can address collaboration.

There are plenty of tools and apps out there to increase remote team collaboration but introducing yet another change in these stressful times may not be the best thing for your business right now.  Instead, look at putting these 5 simple practices in place, and once they’re working well, then add in technology changes: 

 

  • Weekly Update Meetings:  Have weekly update meetings with your whole team. Ask everyone to prepare for it by answering these questions:  What are you working on right now?  What is your highest priority? What is your biggest challenge?  What support do you need to resolve your challenge and achieve your priority?Follow up their check-ins with your answers to the same questions.
  • Common Challenges:  Identify common challenges and themes, then ask your team to come up with suggestions on how to solve them.
  • Brainstorming:  Facilitate a weekly brainstorming meeting dedicated to solving these common challenges and themes.
  • Track Progress:  Keep track of the solutions that are implemented and recap them regularly so everyone can see how you’re making progress
  • Celebrate:  Celebrate those successes.

In my next blog I’ll be sharing Team Building Practices and Games to Inspire and Motivate that build on these 5 steps, so you can get even better engagement and collaboration.

In the meantime, I’m offering Free Open Office Hours in my Zoom Room over lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays during these interesting times.  Drop in and ask me any team related questions, and I’ll answer them.

Get your REMOTE TEAM and PEOPLE MANAGEMENT QUESTIONS ANSWERED

If you have questions about your remote teams, I hold FREE Virtual Office Hours in My Zoom Room on Tuesdays and Thursdays during these interesting times. Stop by with whatever team management questions you have, and I’ll provide answers.

Stop By My Zoom Room! The door will be open on:
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00-12:30 Pacific Time.

Tuesday’s Link:  https://zoom.us/j/590537679

Thursday’s Link: https://zoom.us/j/561968155

I look forward to meeting you and answering your questions, Angela

Founder and CEO

DreamTeam.Solutions

and

Crysalis People Solutions Inc.

Hi, I’m Angela Heit and I’m a self-professed serial entrepreneur.  I’m currently running my third business and just launched my fourth.  I was fortunate to have built my second venture into a multi-seven figure business in 4 short years before I sold it.  So, I understand what it takes to grow a successful business and how the day-to-day demands keep you so focused in “do mode” that building leadership skills becomes a low priority.

‘Improving your leadership skills will increase your business growth and your day-to-day happiness’ 

For more than 25 years I’ve helped 100s of small business and fortune 500 clients build better teams.  Based on that experience, I’ve launched  DreamTeam.Solutions, a resource site for Business Owners and Leaders to learn from both the mistakes and successes of my clients.

From Leadership Skills Training that gets you results in just 15 minutes per day; to Practical Quick Tips; to Free Templates; to Coaching and Consulting Solutions, everything helps you make a bigger leadership impact that propels your business growth.

To your success,   

                          Angela

Some past corp clients I’ve worked with

DON’T PANIC — Strengthen Team Performance to Ride Out the Storm

DON’T PANIC — Strengthen Team Performance to Ride Out the Storm

— Anxiety (Fear) Short Circuits the Brain’s Decision-Making Ability–

If you have a team of people and you’re affected by COVID-19 you’ll benefit from these tips to ride out the storm, jump on opportunities and deal with the reality of lost revenue. 

I’ll be covering:

  1. Going Remote
  2. Downsizing for fantastic teams
  3. Downsizing for teams with “Bad Apples”

GOING REMOTE

Recently Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and others cancelled conferences and mandated working from home.  Consider doing the same if you have any employees that primarily work on their computer and interact with others via phone or on-line.  Check this free webinar out if you want to learn techniques to get the most out of your virtual team that a friend of mine is offering.

Unfortunately if you’re in an industry where the majority of your people either work together to make something or deal directly with the public, this isn’t possible so you’ll likely need to consider some form of downsizing.

Downsizing is one of the most difficult thing you’ll do as a Business Owner but there are ways to do it in a way that’s easier for everyone.

How to Downsize if you have a Fantastic Team

One of the key characteristics of a fantastic team is collaborative decision making, so

 

1.  Talk to your Employees

Can you do this in a way where you have each others back?  If you have a fantastic team that you’ve worked at getting right there’s nothing more frustrating than having to let anyone go.  So instead explore possibilities where everyone’s salaries are reduced for a period of time.

Start with a conversation where you explain what’s happening to your revenue and that you want to handle it by having everyone participate in the solution.  Then have the meeting and explain that there are 2 different options: 1) Lay off a few people; or 2) Have everyone take a salary cut.  Then ask them for their input.

If you truly have a great team it won’t be long before everyone comes to the mutual decision of taking a pay cut.

 

2.  Relief Programs

Depending on where your business is located you may find that there are government relief programs designed to off-set sudden economic slow downs.  In Canada you can take advantage of the Temporary Measures for COVID-19 but you’ll need to apply.  Apply now if you want to see the relief sooner and have patience as it may take a little longer because of the volume of applications.

 

3.  More Drastic Measures

  • Keep your people informed as things change and do it in a positive way to give them the opportunity to give you input and offer support.
  • The need to lay off will not come as a surprise if you keep your people informed.  And although still an emotional decision, your team will understand.
  • Brainstorm on how to provide support whether a kind and compassionate ear, or a buddy system to share resources.  Together you can weather the storm and strengthen relationships in the process.

How to Downsize when you have some “Bad Apples”

If you have some “Bad Apples” on your team, you have a unique opportunity to clean house.

Face it if you have people who are less than ideal, you’ve likely missed some opportunities to improve their performance.  Now’s your chance to fix that situation by laying them off.  Here’s how you do it with the maximum amount of compassion:

 

1.  Rank Your Employees into 3 categories

A simple A, B, C system is all you need where a) These are your star employees.  They are reliable, do great work and you can trust them; b) These are your steady employees who do what’s needed and require very little energy to keep on track; and c) These are your “Bad Apples”.  They frustrate you because of their ongoing repeat performance issues.

Use your ranking system to decide who will be let go.

 

2.  Talk to your Employees

Start with a conversation where you explain what’s happening to your revenue and that you will need to let some people go and only keep a skeleton staff.  Then tell them that you’ll be meeting with everyone individually to discuss how this change will affect them. 

 

3.  Keep it Professional with Compassion

There is nothing more stressful than losing your job.  And losing your job in these uncertain times is even more stressful so follow a few simple rules: 

  • Get one or more of your company’s leaders to help you by implementing a buddy system.  Each lay off conversation is done by 2 people so you can support each other while navigating an emotional conversation;
  • Keep it honest but brief by repeating the facts of how your business is impacted and that you need to let them go. 
  • Get all the paperwork ready in advance to allow your affected people to access unemployment insurance quickly.

4.  Gather Your Remaining Team 

Let them know that you want to handle this crisis by having everyone participate in the solution.  Then discuss further lay-offs or salary cuts and get them to provide their input to come up with a plan.  Implement the plan while continuing to inform everyone of changes as they arise.

 

Get in touch if you need help implementing any of these tips or if you need more specific help. 

 

Founder and CEO

DreamTeam.Solutions

and

Crysalis People Solutions Inc.

Hi, I’m Angela Heit and I’m a self-professed serial entrepreneur.  I’m currently running my third business and just launched my fourth.  I was fortunate to have built my second venture into a multi-seven figure business in 4 short years before I sold it.  So, I understand what it takes to grow a successful business and how the day-to-day demands keep you so focused in “do mode” that building leadership skills becomes a low priority.

‘Improving your leadership skills will increase the trajectory of your business growth and elevate your day-to-day happiness’ 

For more than 25 years I’ve helped 100s of small business and fortune 500 clients build better teams.  Based on that experience, I’ve launched  DreamTeam.Solutions, a resource site for Business Owners and Leaders to learn from both the mistakes and successes of my clients.

From Leadership Skills Training that gets you results in just 15 minutes per day; to Practical Quick Tips; to Free Templates; to Coaching and Solutions, everything helps you build your skills and make a bigger leadership impact that propels your business growth.

To your success,   

                          Angela

Some past corp clients I’ve worked with

Team Performance:  Can’t or Won’t1

Team Performance: Can’t or Won’t1

40-80% of your revenues are spent on employee salaries 

If you’re a leader of people and you’ve struggled with getting people to do what you want, to the standards you expect, then this is for you.  I’ll share how to identify which performance issue you’re dealing with and how to fix it and you’ll also get an inside look at 2 former clients and how they dealt with can’t and won’t.

What’s your return on that investment?

Depending on your business sector, you spend between 40 and 80 percent of gross revenues on employee salaries and benefits according to the Society for Human Resource Management.  And at the end of the day, a salary is like any business expense, it’s an investment.  And like any other investment you should get a return on that investment. Your return is low when you experience team performance issues.  To increase that return and positively impact your business growth, team alignment and optimal performance is the key. 

When you struggle with getting people to do what you want, to the standards that you expect, you have an opportunity to make things better.  To do that you need to ask, does the employee have the skills, experience or talent to do what you ask? Or is it a question of motivation?  How you deal with the issue depends on that distinction.

Can’t:

So let’s start with Can’t:  The employee does not have an understanding of what’s required, or the skills or experience to do what’s needed.  One of the biggest hiring mistakes I made was a classic example of this.

I wish I never hired, we’ll call him Jim.  He was a super nice guy, fit our culture perfectly, was super enthusiastic and passionate about our vision, was fun to work with and always produced great work.  He was perfect in every way except for one.  He didn’t have all the skills to do the main thing that we hired him for.  And because he was such a nice guy and great in so many other ways, we decided to keep him.  To solve our skill gap we tried training him to get the skills and when that didn’t work, we adjusted his responsibilities and changed his job.  Which still left us with a skill gap that needed to be solved.  That stupid decision cost me a lot of money and had far more reaching consequences than I ever imagined.

Here’s another example of can’t:  My client needed someone yesterday, so he hired the best of the candidates that he received.  The candidate interviewed well, was personable and talked about the experience he had doing the work that was required.  However, when he started, he was slow and it became obvious that he had exaggerated his experience.  The business owner had to train him which he was fine with, but it required a lot of extra time explaining the same things over and over again.  After 2 months of trying, I advised the owner to let his new employee go because hiring this person hadn’t solved his problem and was in fact adding to it, so his return on the investment was super low.

As you can see, if performance is a case of “Can’t” the question becomes, can the skills be trained or is something more drastic required?  Additional questions that you need to ask are:  How long would it take for the employee to get up and running to your standards? How much will it cost, in training dollars and time from others who need to fill the gap while training is happening?  And, can you afford it?  Once you know the answers to those questions, you’ll have the knowledge to make an informed decision on whether to train her or let her go and hire again.

Won’t:

If the performance issue is as a result of motivation or “Won’t”, you’ll need to get clear on why? Reasons can range from lack of understanding, to uninspired or demotivated, to anger or resentment.  The key here is whether the employee performed to your standards in the past?  If so, why the change?  Let me tell you a little story to illustrate how this might happen.

A client came to me because she really hated going into work.  She was demotivated because the atmosphere in her business was horrible and it was affecting her whole team and her clients.  She had a small team of 8 employees now but when she first started it was just her and a good friend who became her first employee.  That employee, let’s call her Kathy, was wonderful.  She was highly motivated, highly responsive to their customer’s needs and a joy to work with.  When my client called me things had progressively gotten bad.  Now Kathy was short with the owner in meetings, made a lot of complaints under her breath, and only did the bare minimum with customers.  The team was taking notice and it made working in their small studio quite uncomfortable for everyone.

When I spoke to the client the first question I asked was, what had changed.  My client wasn’t really sure, and she expressed fear that things would get worse if she tried to fix it on her own.

Here’s what we did:

  • The owner told her team that she hired me to help the company become more efficient and productive
  • I interviewed each person on the team to get a clear understanding of what was working and what wasn’t. This included everything from processes to team dynamics
  • Based on the feedback we did a conflict resolution process. I facilitated the process to allow both the owner and Kathy to be fully heard, a resolution agreed to, and steps to help them achieve their new mutual goals.

I’m happy to report that the air was cleared.  It turned out that the issue started from a feeling of being under appreciated for the extra work that Kathy did when she was left in charge during the owner’s 8-week leave. This then spiraled into resentment and anger.  Once everyone was heard, the conflict was resolved quickly and ended in tearful hugs.

To bring this win back to the team my client implemented a few other recommended team building techniques and changed how work was done.  These included regular weekly team meetings that started with each member saying something they were grateful for about the team as a whole or an individual member.  This was followed by a round table where everyone reported on their priorities for the week and included requests for help to get the job done even better.

Resolving this issue and making those 2 changes transformed the atmosphere completely.  After 2 years, I received a call from this client and she let me know that the team was doing really well.  They were extremely collaborative, positive, and actively looked for opportunities to appreciate each other.  The business was doing great and more importantly, the owner loved her company again.

Over my 26 years of experience working with teams, I’ve noticed that performance often comes down to a heartfelt conversation.  Unfortunately, those skills aren’t taught in most business schools or in most companies but are necessary to motivate and inspire. 

Next week I’ll share more on motivating and inspiring your team to new heights.  In the meantime, if you want to learn more about successfully navigating difficult conversations, I’m offering a 1-hour training on March 13.  Check out the details here.

And if you want to get the results that my client got, I’ve included a free tool to enhance your team’s performance.

Founder and CEO

DreamTeam.Solutions

and

Crysalis People Solutions Inc.

Hi, I’m Angela Heit and I’m a self-professed serial entrepreneur.  I’m currently running my third business and just launched my fourth.  I was fortunate to have built my second venture into a multi-seven figure business in 4 short years before I sold it.  So, I understand what it takes to grow a successful business and how the day-to-day demands keep you so focused in “do mode” that building leadership skills becomes a low priority.

‘Improving your leadership skills will increase the trajectory of your business growth and elevate your day-to-day happiness’ 

For more than 25 years I’ve helped 100s of small business and fortune 500 clients build better teams.  Based on that experience, I’ve launched  DreamTeam.Solutions, a resource site for Business Owners and Leaders to learn from both the mistakes and successes of my clients.

From Leadership Skills Training that gets you results in just 15 minutes per day; to Practical Quick Tips; to Free Templates; to Coaching and Solutions, everything helps you build your skills and make a bigger leadership impact that propels your business growth.

To your success,   

                          Angela

Some past corp clients I’ve worked with

Performance – The #1 People Management Complaint

Performance – The #1 People Management Complaint

A ‘DO OVER’ ON YOUR BIGGEST MANAGEMENT MISTAKES

Taking a cue from Keith J. Cunningham from his new book, The Road Less Stupid – Advice from the Chairman of the Board (a great read, BTW).  If I gave you a ‘do over’ on 3 of the biggest people management mistakes you’ve ever made, I bet you’ll say, “I wish I never hired _______” for at least one of them.

In my case I wish I never hired, we’ll call him Jim.  He was a super nice guy, fit our culture perfectly, was super enthusiastic and passionate about our vision, was fun to work with and always produced great work.  He was perfect in every way except for one.  He didn’t have all the skills to do the main thing that we hired him for.  And because he was such a nice guy and great in so many other ways, we kept him.  That stupid decision cost me a lot of money and had far more reaching consequences than I ever imagined.  

Perhaps you’ve made a similar mistake or maybe it’s a bit different but if I asked you why you wish you never hired __________, you’d respond with something like this:

“I was so excited by what she could bring to the company, I was expecting so much more” 

“He seemed perfect, I thought he was the answer to our biggest problem but”

“I couldn’t believe that I had to explain the same thing over and over again, it was soooo frustrating.  And the issues I had to clean up were exhausting.”

“They cost me money, time, and my sanity.”

These are all performance issues that could have been avoided.  Let’s take a look at how this happens for many Business Owners and Leaders.

You’re company is growing and you need to hire

After many months of searching and going through the hiring process you’ve found the perfect one.  In the meantime the work has piled up so you and your existing team have had to work extra hours just to keep up.  Which has left you with very little time to think about what she would need to do to help.  Let alone the training he would need so you can set them up for success.

Your new enthusiastic, eager to please employee arrives on their first day and because you’re so busy you hand them to another employee to “train”.  Sometimes, the “trainer” is prepared with a training system but more often than not, they’re not, so training is haphazard at best.  Or worse, they have nothing prepared so they ask the new employee to read the dreaded “procedure manual” which may or may not be up-to-date or have anything at all to do with their new job.

You know you need to meet with your new employee and have a chat about her new job but because of everything on your plate it takes a week or two before you finally do.  By that time that new job luster has worn off.   That excited, enthusiastic and eager to please new employee feels dejected and maybe even resentful and his performance starts to show it.

And that’s the last thing you wanted.  You were so excited when you decided to hire them because you saw exactly how they could solve so many of your problems.  Now the excitement is gone and there’s only disappointment on both sides.

If you’re well down this slippery road or you see the signs that you’re starting to slide in this direction, then…

 

IT’S TIME TO TURN THINGS AROUND

You can re-ignite that excitement, enthusiasm and eagerness to please.  And you can do it for your whole team — not only your new employee. 

Here’s a simple tip you can easily implement that will Up Your Team’s Performance no matter what the level of enthusiasm.  And it all starts with a conversation with your employees.

Here’s what you need to do to make your conversation successful:

1.  Meet With the Whole Team:  Tell them that you’d like their input on becoming a high performing company and tell them that you’ll be meeting with each of them over the next few weeks to get that input.  Ask them to think of 3 things that they could do differently to increase their performance.

2.  Get Prepared for Success: By thinking about and writing down your answers to the following:

  • What are 3 things this employee does well
  • What are 3 things this employee could do better?
  • What would this employee accomplish in 3 and 6 months that would make you really happy?
  • What help or training would this employee need to reach those 3 and 6 month goals?

Now set up that conversation with your employees and come with an attitude of collaboration and see what happens.

If you get a chance share your results below.  I’d love to hear how it goes for you or ask a question and I’ll happily answer it.  And if you want some help with the implementation check out our training and coaching packages here.

Want more tips to increase your team’s performance and grow faster, then download the free cheatsheet here

Founder and CEO

DreamTeam.Solutions

and

Crysalis People Solutions Inc.

Hi, I’m Angela Heit and I’m a self-professed serial entrepreneur.  I’m currently running my third business and just launched my fourth.  I was fortunate to have built my second venture into a multi-seven figure business in 4 short years before I sold it.  So, I understand what it takes to grow a successful business and how the day-to-day demands keep you so focused in “do mode” that building leadership skills becomes a low priority.

‘Improving your leadership skills will increase the trajectory of your business growth and elevate your day-to-day happiness’ 

For more than 25 years I’ve helped 100s of small business and fortune 500 clients build better teams.  Based on that experience, I’ve launched  DreamTeam.Solutions, a resource site for Business Owners and Leaders to learn from both the mistakes and successes of my clients.

From Leadership Skills Training that gets you results in just 15 minutes per day; to Practical Quick Tips; to Free Templates; to Coaching and Solutions, everything helps you build your skills and make a bigger leadership impact that propels your business growth.

To your success,   

                          Angela

Some past corp clients I’ve worked with

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