Creating a good work environment. We see it in our day-to-day work. A company whose workers are motivated gains, and a lot, in productivity. This is not only determined by the efficiency of the company’s production and/or service systems but, above all, by the willingness to work for its employees. It’s therefore vital to have a team of people who feel motivated every day during their working day.

 

To create a good working environment, we have to take into account several factors that we must promote within our companies. Whether we are the managers or the employees, we can all collaborate and try to put most of them into practice. The creation of a good work environment favors both the results of the company and the psychological well-being of the people who work in it.

 

Creating a good work environment

 

Some of the actions that we can carry out are:

 

Create a climate of respect

 

This is the most important point. We must all try to create a harmonious environment in which tolerance is the key element, both between different hierarchical levels as well as “peer to peer”.

 

Cooperate rather than compete

 

When we are in a team we must be aware that we are all working towards a common goal. Therefore, complicity, cohesion and above all cooperation are the main ingredients to improve personal relationships and the results of our efforts.

 

Encourage autonomy

 

When employees have their own responsibilities in their work and have free rein to think critically and propose ideas, they end up getting more involved, since they understand that their actions and opinions are important and have relevance.

 

Helping family reconciliation

 

Work should be an important part of our lives, but it cannot completely condition our personal life. From the company we can carry out several actions such as giving the option of more flexible schedules or adapted to the schedule of schools, among others.

 

Be empathetic

 

All workers, and even the leader himself, may have complicated personal situations and we must be empathetic enough to understand their situation and understand the possible consequences.

 

Build a pleasant physical space

 

We spend many hours a day inside the office, so we must try to have these places well illuminated, ventilated, etc. In addition, organization, cleanliness, and comfort must be taken care of in detail, since they will have an impact on the emotional state and productivity of employees.

 

Choosing a good leader

 

It’s crucial that you know the potential of your employees, but also that you communicate well with them. It’s important to thank them for their work and recognize their successes, as well as to encourage feedback, hear their opinions and criticisms and propose solutions.

 

Stimulation

 

From the personnel management, we must create the feeling to our employees that their professional career does not have to remain stagnant within the company, but that it has prospects for growth and improvement over time. In addition to rewards at the status or economic level, we can also stimulate our employees with training, offering them courses of their interest that will also improve the productivity of their daily work.

 

One of the factors that can most influence the productivity of a company is the work environment of its employees. In the case of an adequate work environment, employees will be much more productive and talent will be retained in the company. On the contrary, inadequate work environments hinder the development of workers, which results in low productivity, high absenteeism, as well as high job turnover.

 

What is meant by work environment?

 

The work environment is the context in which an employee carries out his or her work. This context can be made up of both physical elements (the space where the work is carried out) and non-physical elements (for example, the work environment with colleagues or the hierarchical relationships that are established). 

 

All these factors contribute for better or worse in the production of employees. Therefore, it’s important to take them into account when promoting a space and a work environment where workers feel safe and at ease. This will allow them to fully develop as workers and, consequently, be more productive.

 

How to create a good working environment

 

There are many elements that help to create a good working environment. In fact, depending on the type of company where you want to achieve this goal, it may be more important to focus on some aspects or others. However, in most cases, the following tips are usually of great help.

 

Respect schedules

 

This is an element that, a priori, might seem basic, but is not always the case. There may be situations that require employees to work overtime, but it must be kept in mind that this will always be an exceptional situation. If the workload is such that it’s necessary for employees to work more hours than they should in theory, it may well be time to expand the workforce.

 

Facilitating work-life balance

 

Another of the most important elements in creating a good working environment is helping employees to balance their work and family life, as it frees them from external pressures and allows them to focus on their tasks during working hours. In this sense, solutions such as daycare provide considerable help in improving employee productivity by improving their work-life balance.

 

The importance of breaks

 

Breaks are part of any activity, including work. Breaks allow workers to clear their heads and return to their tasks with renewed energy and a fresh head. Therefore, respecting breaks and adapting them to the type of task being carried out is an element that helps a lot in creating a good working environment.

 

Correctly defining jobs and each of the tasks assigned

 

One of the main problems that can damage a good working environment is the lack of definition of tasks and jobs within the organization. Correctly defining each of these elements will help employees perform their tasks more efficiently and will also avoid misunderstandings, duplication, or unassigned tasks.

 

Develop a career plan for each employee

 

One of the most helpful elements in creating a good work environment is for employees themselves to have a long-term perspective of their respective jobs. If employees see themselves in the same company many years from now (taking into account the corresponding promotion in each case), this will motivate them to become more committed to the company.

 

Good internal communication

 

This is one of the fundamental factors in fostering a good and pleasant working environment for everyone. Communication among employees is essential to create a space where employees feel safe and comfortable, so it’s advisable to work with specific and appropriate training.

 

Comfortable and pleasant physical spaces

 

Likewise, another fundamental element in creating a pleasant working environment is the physical elements with which the employees themselves interact. Elements such as work furniture, lighting, and air conditioning, the separation of the physical space between workers, or cafeteria services, among many others, are aspects that facilitate the creation of a work environment that helps to develop the highest productivity of employees. Therefore, it’s important to pay them the attention they deserve.

 

5 ways to create a healthy work environment

                                                   

Being healthy is more than just not being sick; it’s experiencing personal and relational well-being in the various areas of our lives. As more and more of our lives are spent at work, we propose ways to create an environment that not only doesn’t make you sick but helps you feel better.

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) proposed in 2013 an action plan for the design and implementation of healthy work environments. This plan was aimed at employers, workers, authorities, and professionals. The basic premise of this work is that “the wealth of companies depends on the health of workers”. Thus, it’s not only a business ethics responsibility, or a legal obligation, but also a business policy decision that improves the work climate and productivity

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Health is not defined simply as the absence of disease; on the contrary, it’s a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. Hence, a healthy work environment is a place where all stakeholders collaborate. This collaboration is vital in implementing a process of continuous improvement to protect and promote the health, safety, and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace.

 

Of course: no one can object to these definitions but the reality is that it’s a concept, a horizon that guides the improvement process without ever exhausting it, although it allows changes that we can all appreciate. That is why there are key guidelines for the design of a healthy workplace.

 

Management involvement and commitment. Creating a good work environment

 

It’s essential that any initiative aimed at improving the work environment has the participation of the company’s superiors and top-level personnel. The key is integrating the design of a healthy workplace into the company’s objectives and values.

Involve workers and their representatives. 

 

Just as healthy workplaces are good for the company, they have workers as immediate beneficiaries. Including them in the decision-making process avoids the mutual distrust generated by unilateral measures and generates a genuine interest of all parties in the success of the measures taken. 

 

Corporate ethics and legality, Creating a good work environment

 

Organizational commitment to compliance with occupational health codes and laws is key to any process of designing a healthy work environment. Adherence to ethical conduct that avoids harm to others respects their rights and takes care of their health is the necessary basis without which no improvement process is possible. 

 

Use of systematic and comprehensive continuous improvement processes

 

Like any change process, the design of healthy work environments requires an investment of money, time, and human resources. Creating a good work environment. It’s necessary to commit to the planning and then the execution of that plan, maintaining a responsible team that monitors compliance and is attentive to deviations, changes and reformulations that may be required.

 

Even if complete wellbeing is, to a large extent, utopian, the intermediate results we achieve result in perceptible improvements in the lives of workers and organizations.

Keys to avoid burnout in the workplace. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized burnout as a disease. It’s one of the most common problems for employees. But what is burnout syndrome?

 

If you feel exhaustion, lack of energy, bad mood, and mental fatigue, you might have burnout syndrome. This is common among the working population. It’s also called occupational burnout syndrome. 

 

People in situations of stress and anxiety suffer from it. In fact, people reach a point in which fatigue takes over their bodies. This causes physical and psychological problems.

 

Burnout is an emotional disorder caused mainly by work. It has many physical and psychological symptoms. Besides, it has bad effects on the company.

 

It might be caused by different things. For example, low-stress tolerance and frustration of the affected person. Also, the work environment, the leadership style of the superiors, and issues in the definition of the job. The stress of modern life also affects it.

 

Burnout has many effects. You might have problems sleeping. There’s also a lack of motivation. Besides, people who have it are always in a bad mood. That hurts many parts of their life.

 

Burnout can affect both personal and professional life. Besides, it can lead to depression and anxiety. In recent years, burnout has become one of the main causes of both absenteeism and bad productivity at work. 

 

What are the symptoms of burnout syndrome?

 

Burnout is a response to chronic stressors in the environment. You can identify it from its effects. Namely, exhaustion, cynicism, and professional ineffectiveness. Besides, burnout often occurs among employees who work with people (care, health, and education sectors).

 

The nature of burnout is clear. It affects the personal, social, and professional levels.

 

First, on a personal level, there is numbness and a lack of energy. Then, at the social level, you find bad attitudes, such as insensitivity and cynicism. Lastly, at the professional level, there is low self-esteem and the inability to withstand pressure or feel satisfied.

 

You can’t blame the individual for being burned out. In fact, it’s due to long and frequent exposure to bad working conditions. In fact, high demands can hurt you. Also, great emotional and cognitive tension, along with lack of recognition, means having this condition is a matter of time.

 

It’s normal to suffer stress at work. Maybe it’s even necessary. The reason is that work demands, also called stressors, should challenge the worker. Keys to avoid burnout in the workplace. They help motivation. Of course, we are talking about moderate levels of stress, which the worker can cope with.

 

The problem happens when the demands outgrow these coping strategies and go on for a long time. Sometimes you work every day and deal with problems that you can’t handle. Then, symptoms of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and low fulfillment will appear.

 

Triggers of burnout

 

The triggers of burnout are in the organization’s context. This means organizational aspects and job design. Also, those relating to the emotional demands from interpersonal relationships during work.

 

Burnout is common in organizations with simple and repetitive work. These are too stiff, with few resources and a bad work climate. Burnout also happens in organizations where workers aren’t encouraged to join in. Because of this, conflict and role ambiguity are present. It’s also important to note the lack of support from colleagues or bosses.

 

The emotional demands that come with interpersonal relationships cause negative moments with patients or clients. It also correlates with negative work dynamics, conflicts between colleagues, and lack of collaboration.

 

Then, the growth and development of this syndrome depend mainly on social factors. For instance, poor communication with family and friends or loss of social prestige. Personal reasons affect too. A tendency to become extremely involved can happen. Also, problems with personal expectations and a certain addiction to work are common causes for the syndrome.

 

Are people who work in front of the public more vulnerable?

 

This syndrome happens most often in vocational professions that are very demanding. The most vulnerable people are those who work with others. For example, doctors, nurses, teachers, police, and the like. In other words, jobs that have high demands. 

 

These jobs involve certain emotional demands. For example, teachers and doctors. It’s more likely that many of the risk factors for this syndrome will converge. To illustrate, the lack of time to see patients, too much emotional burden, or the lack of reciprocity in social exchanges can affect people.

 

How can I prevent personal burnout?

 

Set limits.

 

Don’t work until you burn out. Know your limits. Don’t overdo it in your efforts to meet work deadlines.

 

Ask for help.

 

If you are feeling the symptoms of burnout, you must ask for help as soon as possible. Talk to a professional and tell your boss about what is happening.

 

Disconnect.

 

In order not to feel the work overload, you must know when to stop. Turn off your computer, cellphone, and do not check your email outside office hours if it’s not strictly necessary.

 

Take care of your health.

 

Eating a good diet and doing physical activities at least twice a week will help prevent stress from winning the battle.

 

Take care of your money.

 

Financial problems are a frequent cause of burnout. Make sure you have your expenses under control to make ends meet, and manage your money wisely.

 

Find the right job.

 

Burnout syndrome can also mean that you are in the wrong job. Keys to avoid burnout in the workplace. If you’re feeling tired and bored with your job, it may be time to find a new one. Remember that finding a vocation where you feel good will help you achieve happiness.

 

How to prevent burnout in a company

 

To handle this growing problem, companies have a responsibility for both prevention and treatment. This is especially true considering that employees are the driving force of the company.

 

The study of factors that cause burnout will allow the company to adopt defensive measures and help the employee. That way, they will be able to do their tasks properly, avoid overload, and cut stress.

 

Detecting risk factors allows us to prevent damage to the health of employees. Burnout can cause not only human costs but also economic costs at the organizational level.

 

The importance of the team and the team leader

 

What can companies do to cut burnout among their employees? Burnout relates to the worker’s exposure to bad working conditions. Keys to avoid burnout in the workplace. Because of this, creating coping strategies and support can help. This can be good to cut this syndrome’s growth.

 

Many studies have shown that people who work in friendly teams are better against burnout. Social ties, led by superiors who avoid conflict and role ambiguity, can help. Besides, they must boost both the participation and independence of the worker. This type of management strategy and style should be the goal from the beginning of the relationship, to help make a defense against this pathology.

10 productivity rules that will help you achieve what you set out to do. Leading, maintaining, motivating, and promoting optimal functioning, labor productivity and a high level of competitiveness in the market is the challenge that all organizations must assume day after day. Nevertheless, this is not an easy mission. The success of it depends on the management and leadership’s capacity to handle complexity. Also, on several aspects that must be constantly monitored and controlled within the company.

 

The world of work is increasingly demanding. Whether you work for large companies or smaller companies, being productive is essential. Besides, optimizing efforts and resources is a good way to be more efficient. So, want to improve your personal productivity?

 

What is productivity?

 

Productivity is the relationship between the total productive activity and the means or resources invested to achieve such activity in a given period. This takes into account the resulting quality of the product.

 

Now, these resources may be of different nature and may be measured based on different factors, such as time spent. For instance: personal productivity in the business field, natural resources, infrastructure, and capital required to achieve a given productive activity.

 

Therefore, productivity is a necessary indicator to know whether the viability of productive activity is higher or lower. Productivity rules. The more resources used to make a certain quantity of a product in a period of time, the lower the productivity, and vice versa.

 

Productivity advantages

 

Sometimes the workload is excessive. Besides, being aware of many things at once does not help us focus on a specific goal. It’s customary to start many tasks and not finish them or not finish them as we expected. However, that goes against personal productivity, also affecting the performance of the company.

 

It’s necessary to find a way to focus on what is important. Also, to prioritize and be effective. On the one hand, being productive helps you order your work and do it more slowly and better. On the other hand, it’s a good method to optimize your time and energize efforts.

 

Covering too many tasks at once can be counterproductive, but from today you will know how to boost your personal productivity. Besides, these rules will help you become a highly productive person without sacrificing more than you should.

 

One of the notions of productivity indicates that you should do as much as you can in the shortest possible time. However, in the long run, this can actually be very unproductive as you will end up exhausting yourself and start to hate your obligations. So, the secret is actually to set priorities and focus on what’s important. Because of this, when there is something you really want to achieve, you will achieve it no matter how long it takes.

 

Firstly, a golden rule of productivity is to focus on your goals and priorities

 

If you are not clear about what your goals are, you will not have any chance of achieving them. In other words, if you don’t know where you’re going, you may never get there.

 

Goals are the great things you want to achieve in your life. So, focus on priorities, which are the things you have to do to help achieve your goals. For example, pay the bills, or support your family.

 

You need to focus on your goals and priorities. 

 

In a company, a multitude of tasks that accumulate over the days can arise. Perhaps the most logical thing would be to make a plan and follow it strictly. This becomes a failed task in most cases.

 

Surely, among all your tasks, there are some more important than others. A key way to increase your personal productivity is to prioritize. Do the ones that are most urgent or important first. Give them the time they need.

 

It’s important to always remember that a well-done task is better than a thousand poorly completed.

 

Second productivity rule, always do your job

 

You need to have a powerful work ethic that guides your decisions, about what is and isn’t right to do. Besides, you should not commit to anything beyond your ability; this is why it is important to plan your agenda very well. Remember that your word is worth gold, and you must keep it as well as you can.

 

Third productivity rule, love your work

 

If you like your work, long hours do not become an ordeal. You can work tirelessly for long periods of time when long-term projects are presented, and you should not feel bad. Besides, there is nothing wrong with having fun at work. You can achieve multimillion-dollar projects by being happy and smiling.

 

There will be days when you will not have such a strong load. On that day you have the right to take the day or afternoon off. Work should not be painful. In fact, it should be a pleasure and as easy as possible for you.

 

It sounds like a cliché, but if you don’t like what you do, you’ll never be happy. And as we have said, without happiness you can’t reach the desired level of personal productivity. It satisfies you, excites you and makes you want to continue learning. Productivity rules. That’s necessary to face the challenges of each day.

 

If you do not find sense in what you are doing, it’s not worth it to keep going. If you want to contribute to boost the personal productivity of the professionals in the workforce, strive to keep them motivated. For example, build a pleasant work climate and recognize their talent.

 

Fourth productivity rule, be flexible, adaptable and creative.

 

One of the big misconceptions about entrepreneurship is that you are your own boss. This isn’t correct. Don’t forget that you owe it to your customers, your investors and, in a way, to your employees. They are the stakeholders.

 

Fifth productivity rule, take care of yourself

 

You should be able to eat well, sleep well, exercise, and take good care of yourself without stressing about how much you got done before breakfast. Stress monsters are not healthy. Besides, it’s doubtful that they can be productive.

 

Sixth productivity rule, avoid distractions

 

It’s the hardest rule to comply with. The amount of stimuli we currently have makes it take much longer to finish a task. For instance, constantly looking at WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter causes us to be distracted and stop focusing on our work. This leads to loss of concentration and therefore ends up costing us more time to complete tasks.

 

Keeping your phone far away is a good tip not to fall into temptation. Productivity rules. Remember, if you care about personal productivity, social media isn’t paramount, it can wait.

 

Seventh productivity rule, be positive

 

Normally, overwork generates stress. The accumulation of tasks makes us feel burdened. We don’t get to do everything we want. Because of this, we get angry with the world. A good attitude will help us to be more resolute and to have more ideas. If we are angry or in a bad mood, then it’s likely that we won’t do good work.

 

Eight productivity rule, enjoy your free time

 

Sometimes, we think we’re not important. We prioritize our work over our life. Our free time is used to finish tasks or advance work. This isn’t right. Productivity rules. Understanding that each of us, our family, or our friends are paramount is also relevant to working well. So, if we spend time with the people we care about most, we’ll get to work happier. That will help us to cope with our duties better. Work is important, but you are essential.

 

Ninth productivity rule, the Pareto principle

 

The Pareto principle was created by the Italian economist and philosopher Vilfredo Pareto in 1907. It proposes that greater results can be obtained by investing little time and few resources. This implies, among other things, that putting more money and resources into an activity does not necessarily translate into significant improvement. In other words, it is often relatively easy to get much better results without spending more resources.

 

This advice can be very useful for workers who want to improve their productivity in a crisis context where budget cuts are needed. Productivity rules. The Pareto principle emphasizes that better planning during the day and detection of efficiency errors is key. Although paradoxical, continuing to spend is the easy solution. Besides, we have already been working like this and at the present moment, we are imbued in the inertia of habits.

 

Tenth productivity rule, the Parkinson’s law

 

“The work is expanding to take up all the time available.” This law was enunciated in 1957 by the British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson and states that work is usually carried out according to the time that one has.

 

That means that if we have little time to perform a task, we will finish it in less time; and if we have more time, we will finish that work in more time. Productivity rules. 

 

Our way of working adapts to our perception of the working day. Keeping this in mind can help us improve time management and better organize the calendar. For example, one of the implications of this law of productivity is that it is almost always better to have many simple short-term goals than a general medium-term or long-term goal. In the first case, we will be creating a context that predisposes us to make good use of all the time available for the final goal.

 

This week, because of the current situation, I held the first virtual meeting with my Toastmasters club. Being forced to move a meeting that has always taken place face to face, and moving it to virtual, is not always easy.

Members of my club had not been very enthusiastic about it. Some had never used zoom, some others were wondering how we would interact with each other virtually.

There are obviously things we could no longer do:

  • We could no longer shake hands when introducing someone of thanking them for their speech or evaluation
  • Look around at the audience was no longer possible
  • We could not really move around the ‘meeting room’

 

However by using a few ‘tricks’ you can ensure that everybody feels involved, part of something and that everybody enjoys their time during these virtual meetings (have a look at my previous article for general tips on working from home).

Spend a few minutes explaining the tool

Make sure you explain the basic functionalities of the tool so that first time users do not stress unnecessarily. In my case, when we used zoom, I shared my screen and showed people where they could mute  and unmute themselves. I also showed them the different views they could have (gallery view versus speaker view). I also explained them the ‘Chat’ option and how they could message everyone or one single person. 

 

Look at the camera

This is counter intuitive but when you are speaking in front of our computer, we have a tendency to look at people. However, to really connect with people, you need to ensure you look into the camera, and NOT at the participants. It takes a bit of practice to think about doing so every time, but it works. People feel like you’re talking to them when you really focus on your camera, and not on the people who are on your screen. 

 

If someone seems a bit lost or is not engaged

When you are the host and you see someone who seems to be struggling with something (they cannot mute themselves, or they do not remember where the ‘Chat’ button is, make sure you help him/her via chat and guide him/her. If nobody is talking, you can take over and talk the person through explaining the steps he/she needs to take. Make sure you keep the conversations going whenever possible, asking questions and/or making jokes in between. 

 

During our first virtual session, we got very creative. 

In Toastmasters meetings, there is always someone keeping track of the time. In face-to-face meetings, we usually use green, yellow and red cards (or some clubs use mini ‘traffic lights’) to let the speakers know how much time they have left. Virtually  in our session last week, the time keeper used different backgrounds (green, yellow and red) to show the time left.

To vote for the best improvisation and the best speech, each of us sent our vote to the Toastmaster of the evening privately, That is how participants got to understand and put in practice the use of the chat option.

 

Before closing the meeting, I did a round table to ask impressions of participants. 

Everybody was very positive. Some even said they did not expect the meeting to be as good as it was. We also identified a few areas for improvement, which we’ll implement during our next virtual meeting.

Virtual meetings do not have to be bad. You simply have to make sure everybody is involved and that they have all the necessary knowledge to use the tool properly.

This article was also published on Linkedin.

Working from home. The coronavirus is now forcing people to do so in some countries.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about how to manage / lead a virtual team (for those of you who missed it, here is the link).

With the current situation with the coronavirus, the advice I mentioned in my article is still valid and even more critical.

When you were managing a team onsite and suddenly, everybody is forced to work from home, you are now dealing with other challenges and another dynamic.

Here are a few more advice I’d like to give in these challenging times

Keep communication going

In normal circumstances, you hopefully had regular one-on-ones and team meetings with your team members. Now, you’re all working from home and do not see each other. Make sure you keep the communication going. Set up a chat group so that you can greet all your team members every morning and ask how they are doing. You can use this chat for casual conversation or to ask business related questions. You can also use this chat group to ask who needs help and who can help (maybe some team members live in the same area and can help each other with groceries, or taking the dog for a walk). The most important is that your team members still feel they can contact you (or anyone in the team) if they have questions or concerns. 

Be flexible

With schools or kindergartens closed for a few weeks, some people will have their children at home. This means they may be struggling attending some conference calls or send certain reports/mails at times previously agreed. Try to show some empathy and be flexible. If they cannot deliver a report by let’s say 10:00 AM, they may be able to deliver it by 14:00. In these exceptional circumstances, show some flexibility and understanding, People are dealing with these issues the best way they can, they will appreciate it if you show some flexibility and allow them to do their job with some changes in their schedule.

Implement virtual ‘breaks’

If you were having some regular coffee breaks with your team members, or if you legally need to provide breaks to your team members, why not use this 5/10/15 minutes break to meet virtually? Have a video conference call or use the chat group I mentioned earlier to give people the opportunity to speak about anything but work. Try to bring some fun. Share something funny you saw on the internet (a picture, a small video etc.) and encourage everyone in your team to do the same. This will help you all relax a bit and recharge your batteries. 

Remember

This situation is unprecedented. This represents a change for everybody. It is a change for you, whether you are a manager or a team member. Everybody deals with change in different ways. Everybody has to adapt to this new situation, even if it is for a short period of time. 

Make sure you are all supporting each other, that you show empathy and understanding. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Together we are stronger ⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

#vlvcoach #leadership #management #virtualteams #remoteteams

 

This article was also published on Linkedin.

How to best manage a virtual team?

Managing a team is never easy. If you were an individual contributor and have been promoted to a (team) manager role, it’s even more difficult. You need to ensure you do your job. You also now have team members / direct reports to take care of.

 

As a manager, you need to ensure that each team member knows their roles and responsibilities. You need to put in place short, medium and long term goals for the team as a whole as well as for each team member. Providing regular eedback and having performance reviews in place are also part of your responsibilities. You also need to make sure your team members further develop themselves and that they stay motivated etc. etc.

 

But what do you do when the team you manage does not sit with you in the same room or office? What do you do when your team members are spread across the globe? You have to deal with different time zones. Your team members speak other languages (and therefore are not necessarily native English speakers). They come from different cultures, religions, background, age, etc.

 

Managing a virtual team definitely brings its set of challenges. However, there are ways to overcome them…

 

  1. Have regular meetings, ideally via video conference

Like in any team, it is important to have regular meetings with your team members.  Make sure you have weekly 1-on-1 with your direct reports. This is an opportunity for them to provide their highlights, lowlights/challenges and tell you their next focus. You can help them prioritize, give them guidance and provide them feedback on how they are doing.

Make sure you also have a regular team meeting (ideally weekly as well) with your direct reports. This is your chance to provide updates and ensure everyone is on the same page. These meetings give them the opportunity to discuss challenges they may face. Try to find a time that suits all time zones so that some of your employees do not have to be up in the middle of the night to attend your team meeting!

Don’t forget to have yearly performance reviews. This milestone is very important as it allows you to have a more in depth conversation with your team members.  You provide constructive feedback on what went well and what can be improved. Together with your employee, you set up an action plan to ensure they have something to look forward to and can develop themselves further in the next year.

  1. Communication

I am convinced that 90% of the problems we have in the world are due to mis-communication and mis-understanding. Communicating clearly is even more important when you have people who are not native English.

 

When you manage/lead a virtual team, make sure you communicate regularly. There is never too much communication! Make sure that you communicate clearly and concisely. If you use abbreviations, make sure you spell them out, especially if you have new team members on board. And if you have made a special announcement, make sure you send an email afterwards to everyone, so that people who may have not been able to attend, can be up-to-date with the latest developments.

 

Since your team is virtual, keep in mind that some people from other cultures may be hesitant to ask questions or provide feedback. It is therefore very important to give everybody some time to think, to react. Tell your team that it is ok to ask questions or provide feedback! This will not only show that you are willing to listen to them but also that you are open to suggestions, ideas, etc.

 

  1. Humor

Humor is a tricky thing. It can be a great way to develop relationships however it can also break them if not done properly. What is funny for you may not be funny for someone else, especially if they do not master English, or do not have the same references as you. Remember that when dealing with people from different countries and cultures, you have to pay extra attention not to offend anyone. So use humor carefully.

 

Don’t try to make some ‘play on words’ or use some TV or historical reference, as people who do not live in your country will almost certainly not get it. If you really want to use some humor, best is to start with yourself.

 

Pay attention to some of your gestures if you are trying to put some humor! I remember once crossing my fingers to wish someone good luck, and some of my team members in Germany were a bit confused as in German they say – translating literally – ‘I press my thumbs for you’. My gesture looked like something completely different and if I had not noticed their facial expressions, my joke could have been offensive to them. Fortunately, I could paraphrase what I said and everybody laughed. but this taught me a valuable lesson at the beginning of my professional career.

 

If you can and budget allows, try to visit all your team members once a year. Meeting people face-to-face after dealing with them for weeks or months virtually is such a rewarding experience. They will not only make you feel at home, they will do their best to show you a piece of their country or culture and this will build the team even more.

By doing these ‘basic’ steps, you will have the opportunity to build a real team; a team where people will feel part of something, where they all are involved and can contribute, as if they were sitting right next to you.

 

As JT McCormick once wrote, your direct reports then become true direct supports!

#vlvcoach #leadershipdevelopment #communication #remoteteams #globalleader #professionalwomen

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“I have been offered a job abroad but I don’t know if I can do it. Managing a virtual team is completely different than managing a team that is physically located around you”

 

This is what one of my clients told me when she reached out.

 

Yes, managing a team virtually is different.

You do not see or hear each other every day

Sometimes, you may have communication issues as some people may not be fluent in English (or another language) or because of the time difference.

You may be struggling with team performance…

 

But it is not impossible!

Nowadays, we can be connected to each other in so many ways

We just have to be creative in our way of doing things

And we have to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes

 

Just like in a ‘normal’ team

Take time to know your people

Listen to them and ask them for feedback

Involve them in your decision making process

 

And before you know it

Your team will be engaged

They will be working hard to achieve goals

And having fun with each other! 

 

Have you ever managed a virtual team? 

If so, what did you do to build the team and improve/sustain performance?

 

I would love to hear your feedback

#vlvcoach #leadership #teamwork #team

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I was in an all day performance review meeting when I got an escalation. My boss had received an email requiring my immediate attention.

My training and evaluation specialist had been working on a new test for new hires (NH). We had started to pilot it in the UK.

What happened exactly?

The test results were bad.

Not because of the NH themselves. They were bad because we had used the same target as the ‘old’ test and this test required new ones.

The problem was that these NH test results were closely linked to the ‘yes/no’ hiring decision. We had to hire many people in a short period of time and the tests were helping us define who was fit for the job/who could make it or not.

With this new test results, all NHs (+/- 20) seemed to have failed while they had not.

To be sure we were not letting go some of the good potential NH, we had continued to use both the old test and the new test in parallel, but the ‘damage’ had been done… People started to panick when they heard how ‘bad’ the results were,

HR escalated to the UK Site Manager. The UK Site Manager then escalated to the EU Manager. And finally, the EU Manager brought this issue to my boss’ attention.

To make things worse, the EU Manager was actually the backup (the real EU Manager was on holiday). Since this whole situation was new to him, he tought my boss should be made aware…

So when my boss told me: ‘You have an escalation!’, I left the room and went to talk to my specialist to get a better understanding of the situation.

How the situation was solved

My specialist wanted to resign as he felt he had made a big mistake.

I did not accept his resignation and told him I was also responsible. I should have appointed a project manager to help him implement this new test. This person would also have communicated the different steps and timeframe to all stakeholders.

I also told him to stay positive. This was a learning experience for both of us: we did not fail but learned a lot.

I then called the UK site manager and the EU manager. I explained the situation to each of them, what we were doing to correct it and how we’d proceed in the future.

The EU manager apologized to me – 3 times. He said he overreacted. He said he should not have made an escalation and should have checked with me first.

I told him the same thing that I told my training and evaluation specialist:

You actually never lose / fail: you win or you learn 😊

#vlvcoach #leadership #Womenleadership

This blog was also posted on Linkedin.