Could My Great Boss Be Hurting My Career?

How Your Great Boss Might Be Hurting Your Career

Why a Great Boss Can Wreak Havoc on Your Career

Like other good things in life, a great boss relationship, taken to extremes, can wreak havoc with your career. I’ve seen otherwise smart and talented people lose credibility by over-aligning with a great boss.

Be sure to diversify your relationship investments and avoid these common traps.

What Do I Do If I Seem Over-Aligned with My Boss?  #AskingForAFriend

Avoid These Common Mistakes

One of the most heartbreaking conversations to hear in a talent review conversation is, “Yeah, John is good, BUT … I think he’s kind of like ‘Robin’ in the shadows of  Batman. And _______ (insert well-meaning great boss’s name here) is ‘Batman.’ John’s good in a supporting role, but I’m not quite sure he’s ready to take the lead.”

Of course, this is tragic, because in many cases John is the one doing a good job, supporting team members, working late, solving problems, and doing everything to support his great boss.

He has GREAT ideas, many of which have changed the game, but he’s been in the shadows for far too long and hasn’t differentiated his brand.

Here are few big ones I see all the time.

First up, the coattail rider.

Great Boss Mistake #1: The Coattail Rider

Don't Be a Coattail Rider

Boss Mistake #1: The Coattail Rider

On the surface, it feels like the perfect symbiotic relationship.

You’re her right-hand guy. You work hard and always achieve results.  And then, she gets promoted to a new department, and she brings you over.

It’s comforting for her to have someone familiar she can rely on, and you get a promotion or a new assignment. Win-win, right? Then it happens again, and again. Sweet deal?

Although it’s comfortable and feels like the fast track, beware of riding coattails, particularly into more than one assignment. Your identity will become enveloped within your more powerful, great boss. People will begin to see you as a package deal. If her career derails, so will yours.

Also, the best leadership growth comes from working with a variety of leaders. Although the devil you know feels easy, you’re both limiting the growth you would get from working with a wider variety of leaders. Better to let your relationship morph into a mentoring relationship, or friendship, while you each continue to pursue the next steps of your career.

Crushing Mistake #2: The Mini-Me

Boss Mistakes: Don't Be a Mini Me

Boss Mistake #2: The Mini-Me

Your great boss is successful, so you work to emulate his every move.

You begin dressing more like him and picking up mannerisms. After all, it works for him, why not you? In fact, you may not even notice you’re doing it. Trust me, others do.

No matter how great a leader your great boss is, resist the urge to lead like him. Your best leadership will come when you lead from a place of deep authenticity.   No one wants to follow a copycat.

Beware of Mistake #3: The Shadow

Boss Mistakes: the Shadow

Boss Mistake #3: The Shadow

Your great boss is looking to develop you and has your best interest at heart. So, he brings you along to all the things. To the big meetings, to the charity fundraiser … to happy hour. When there’s a company function, there you are right by his side. You always find your way to his table at dinner.

After all, powerful people hang out with other powerful people, right? Be careful. Some such exposure is healthy but over-exposure will burn. Give your peers a chance for face time. Be deliberate in getting to know other people at those functions. It’s harder, sure, but the widened network will be invaluable.

Avoid Common Great Boss Mistake #4: The Name Dropper

Boss Mistakes: Don't Be a Name Dropper

Boss Mistake #4: The Name Dropper

When you’re trying to get stuff done, it’s tempting to just throw around your bosses name. “Karin said this MUST be done by tomorrow at 5.” Weak leaders hide behind the power of other leaders. Even if your boss is the one asking for something to be done, resist the urge to use that muscle. In the long run, you’ll have much more credibility when you own your asks.

And Great Boss Mistake #5 The Good Soldier

Boss Mistakes: Just Being a Good Solider

Boss Mistake #5: The Good Soldier

Your great boss says jump, you say how high … every time. You trust him. Now, of course, there’s a time and a place for good soldiering, but real leaders know when to question and put on the brakes. Sure your boss may reward you for your consistent execution of her directives, but she’ll be amazed when you challenge her with innovation and suggest creative, and better alternatives.

Work to build a fantastic relationship with your great boss, but beware of such co-dependencies. What feels easy and comfortable, could damage your career in the long run.

Related Resources

Courageous Cultures

Get a FREE Download of the first few chapters of Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers and Customer Advocates here.

See Also: How to Be a More Courageous Manager

How to Get the Support You Need When Your Boss is Overwhelmed

 

Too Many Business Meetings Asking For a Friend With Karin Hurt

Too Many Business Meetings? What to Do Now

Delegate Business Meetings to Save Time and Grow Your Team

I’m not exactly sure why this is a thing. But for some reason, working from home seems to have quadrupled the number of business meetings for nearly every manager I talk with.

We’ve been sharing advice on streamlining these business meetings, shortening them, and making them more efficient. And yet, it’s possible that you’ve done all that, and still have too many meetings.

If this sounds familiar, it could be time to delegate.

But you may ask, how can I be sure the manager I send will represent me well? How can I feel confident they’ll have the confidence to speak up, share ideas, and advocate for our team’s needs?

In this week’s Asking for a Friend, I share some practical approaches for delegating meetings, so you can free up some of your time to do the work that only you can do.

I have so many business meetings that I can barely get any work done… what should I do? #AskingForaFriend

Additional Support For Your Managers Leading Remote Meetings

See Also:

Advanced Guide to Leading Online Meetings That Don’t Suck (podcast)

Beyond the Basics: Online Meetings That Don’t Suck Your Soul

5 Things You Need to Know to Run a Successful Virtual Event

Let’s Grow Leaders Remote Teams Resource Center

How Do I Sustain Momentum When My Team is Tired

How Do I Sustain Momentum When My Team is Tired?

On this week’s Asking For a Friend LIVE, Karin Hurt talks with resiliency and leadership development experts about how to sustain momentum when your team is tired.

You can also watch the Live Online recap on LinkedIn so you can see the comments and additional resources.

Join us every Friday at 11:30 for more #AskingForAFriend advice.

A Few Highlights:

How do you sustain momentum when your team is tired?

“We need to figure out what’s that Goldilocks balance between grace and humanity and getting the work done.” – Julie Winkle Giulioni

“There’s a difference between empathy and compassion. You can actually have too much empathy, which can lead you into burnout because then you assume responsibility for the other one. Compassion is the ability to step back, to be present to the other one.” – Eileen McDargh

“What a courageous leader does at this point in time, if they’re skilled and trained, they lead those conversations. “What’s going on in your head? How’s everyone feeling? And what do we do now?” – Pierre Quinn

“As a leader, you could say, “Hey, before we sign up for that particular challenge, what’s another way that we can solve this?” So it does drive additional levels of creativity, but secondarily, it also helps reinforce that that idea might be the best idea, right? Because you want to ensure that you’re really challenging that the idea that’s being put forth is the best idea. And so, it really satisfies two particular areas that might be great with teams to create and generate this desire to be creative and innovative.” – Ed Evarts

Practical Advice:

What’s one piece of practical advice to help leaders sustain momentum when their team is tired?

“Come up with some things that change pace. For example, here you’ve got your team together, say, “I want you to look around wherever you are, pick something out that is meaningful to you and we’re going to take two minutes per person. We want you to hold it up and say why is this meaningful to you.” – Eileen McDargh

“We can facilitate the connections and those connections generate energy. Whilst thus learning something new really helping people figure out what they want to grow in and use this opportunity for conscious intentional development, that infuses greater energy into the mix and it also helps the team perform better as well while creating additional connections.” – Julie Winkle Giulioni

“In these times of meeting scheduling, oftentimes we schedule our meetings every other Tuesday at 9:00 AM and we have them planned out for the next six months, but yet at no time do we have what I like to call a unique meeting, which is where we set aside the agenda, we set aside our projects, we set aside the work that we’re doing, and we talk about us and what we want to do and how we want to behave and what we want to talk about. I love the coffee talk and just chatting about what’s going on at home, how you’re surviving, what’s one thing you’re doing a little bit differently than you’ve done before. I’m sure you could list 50 things, but what’s one thing that you’ve done a lot?” – Ed Evarts

“When you look at students who fare well on standardized testing, ACT, SAT, a lot of it has to do with the exposure to certain vocabulary words at a young age. When we’re dealing with people in work situations and we’re trying to process what’s going on and how we’re feeling, I’ve been finding that a lot of us literally don’t have the emotional vocabulary words to describe what we’re going through. So something super practical, super simple, every leader can do it, look up emotional vocabulary wheel, emotional vocabulary cycle, emotional vocabulary words. When you’re having some of these conversations, instead of asking, “How are you doing?” ask the question, “How are you feeling?” and point to the wheel or the words and allow them to leverage the vocabulary to actually describe what’s going on.” – Pierre Quinn

Related Resources You Might Find Useful

Here are additional articles that help you sustain momentum when your team is tired. If you’re looking for more resources to help sustain momentum and energize your team, see our remote teams resource center. 

Four Ways Leaders Can Re-energize Themselves and Their Teams (Leadership Without Losing Your Soul Podcast)

How do I Keep My Team Energized and Motivated in the Schlog (Asking For a Friend-quick insights)

Virtual Kick-Off Meeting: Why You Should Have One, and How to Make It Great

Full Transcript: How Do You Sustain Momentum When Your Team is Tired?

Karin Hurt:

Hi, I’m Karin Hurt. I’m here with our next edition of Asking for a Friend Live. I am absolutely delighted with the panel that we have today. We’re talking about how do you lead when your team is tired? And so, I’d like to just jump right in because we have four special guests today, so I’m going to introduce them. First, I’d like to bring on Pierre Quinn. Pierre is a kindred spirit. Also, I can’t believe this, we discovered that we live within bicycling distance of one another, which is a lot of fun. He’s all about teaching leaders to activate their own courage, and you know, we’re all about courage here at Let’s Grow Leaders. He has a book called Leading While Green. So Pierre, welcome to the show.

Pierre Quinn:

Thanks, Karin. Glad to be here with you.

Karin Hurt:

And then we have Julie Winkle Giulioni, who is an absolute friend of mine. We’ve been collaborating for a very long time. She is all about growing leaders who grow others. So here at Let’s Grow Leaders, we’re all about growing leaders. I love the work that she does around leaders as teachers. Her book is Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go. So welcome, Julie.

Julie Winkle Giulioni:

Thank you. Looking forward to the conversation.

Karin Hurt:

Me too. Ed Evarts, again, talking about courage, he runs a podcast called Be Brave at Work, and I’m actually going to be on his podcast here, coming up shortly. He has a book 9 High-Impact Ways to Take Responsibility for Your Own Success. So welcome, Ed.

Ed Evarts:

Thank you, Karin. Great to be here.

Karin Hurt:

Great. Finally, Eileen McDargh, who is a good friend of mine. We know each other through the National Speakers Association. She is the resilience builder. Her book is called Burnout to Breakthrough. And so, I know David is chatting in the link to Amazon for all of these great books. I highly recommend them all. Oh, Beth Bueller is joining us and she is glad to be here as well. So, thanks so much. Let’s just jump right in. So, let’s start with you, Julie. When you think about how do you lead when your team is tired, if you had just had one really good piece of advice for folks, what would that be?

Julie Winkle Giulioni:

As I’m working with leaders these days, who obviously are dealing with teams who for the last year have been dealing with some extraordinary circumstances, the first thing that we’d have to do, I think, is really understand the roots of and what’s going on with people, really meeting them where they are. It’s been interesting in the media recently. There’s been sort of, I don’t know, an etymological exercise around this idea of exhaustion and tired and parsing it out into its parts, the physical fatigue, the mental drain, the emotional exhaustion, just that depletion at a core level. So I think from a leadership standpoint, the first thing we have to do is really understand what’s going on and what’s contributing to those levels of exhaustion, because certainly if folks are physically fatigued if they’ve been pulling down to in double shifts for the last three months, there’s something you can do about that as a leader probably. Or if they’re really mentally just burned out because they’ve been pushing the envelope innovating, whatever it might be, you might be able to rotate them towards something more rote.

If it’s more of that soul-sucking depletion, then we need to support them in different ways. But once we understand, then we’re in a great position to do what I’m coaching a lot of leaders to do, balance, grace and accountability. I think that’s really as a leader, that’s our mission these days, is bringing our humanity to each of our interactions, the compassion, the empathy, cutting people the appropriate slack given what’s been going on, but also holding them accountable because those high standards cause people to step up. They’re inspiring to stretch yourself when you’re growing, when you’re developing new skills. At least once a day, I find myself telling people “I feel so fortunate for my work. If I didn’t have this work, I’d be going crazy.” This is a lifeline for folks. And so, we need to figure out what’s that Goldilocks balance between grace and humanity and getting the work done. That can also be motivating.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, I think that’s so beautiful, balancing the grace, the humanity with the accountability. I know one of the questions that we’re getting a lot is how much empathy is too much empathy? That’s really where is the point that you also need to get the work done? I do think that’s so important to show up human and to really think about that. I love it. Thank you so very much. Eileen, I think this is the perfect segue over to you, wouldn’t you say with the work that you do around resiliency?

Eileen McDargh:

Well, [crosstalk 00:05:58] just look at Julie and say, “Ditto. Goodbye.” You know what, in this last book that I wrote, if you look at burnout, which by its classic definition is total exhaustion by trying to achieve some unrealistic expectation. And so, to move from burnout to breakthrough, this is where we begin to build resiliency, it all has to do with an energy exchange. I mean, that’s what is energy, but the capacity to do work. If you ain’t got no energy, it’s really hard to do this, but it also starts with communication. And so, when Julie said what is it that the leader finds out what someone is doing? But let me say something else. Well leaders lead well. You have to model what you want from them. So if you’re the one that is pushing the envelope, if you’re the one that’s insisting it, then you got to sit back and say, “Whoa, where is my accountability here?”

Also, there’s a difference between empathy and compassion. You can actually have too much empathy, which can lead you into burnout because then you assume responsibility for the other one. Compassion is the ability to step back, to be present to the other one. Lastly, let me say this one other thing, because I want to have everyone have plenty of time to talk, is you can also burnout doing work that is no longer meaningful to you, and that’s a real critical question. So for the leaders, are you asking people to do things that you might know as valuable, you might know why it counts at the end of the day for the customer, for the stakeholder? But guess what, the person who’s doing it thinks it’s stupid. That’s why, Karin, your work, creating courageous cultures is to be able to speak up and say, “Why am I doing this?”

Karin Hurt:

Oh, thank you so much. I’m just going to pause here and to say, if you are listening and you have a question about this topic from any of our guests, how do you lead when your team is tired, please type your comments and your questions into the chat box, because we are going to open the floor for questions here in a few minutes. So, thank you so much. Pierre, I will go over to you next and hear your thoughts.

Pierre Quinn:

Yeah. I go back to my time teaching college courses. I used to teach interpersonal communication, the fundamentals of public speaking, business communication. Without failure, there will be a point in every single semester where I knew my students would reach a low point. They have so many class responsibilities pulling on them, so many other challenges, things going on personally, things going on academically. I made it a point at certain points during the semester to say, “Okay. We’re going to walk away from the textbook. We’re going to walk away from the lesson plan. Today, we’re just going to have a conversation about what’s going on. I can tell, it’s on your faces, it’s in your body posture, there are things that are pulling on you that are not necessarily connected to what we’re doing in the course, so let’s have a conversation about it.” I call it a little bit of a release valve.

Now, coaching leaders and working with teams, the elephant in the room, the 500-pound gorilla, however you want to describe it is the fact that we’re all under the weight of a politically, economically, and as it relates to our health, it’s impacting all of us. What a courageous leader does at this point in time, if they’re skilled and trained, they lead those conversations. “What’s going on in your head? How’s everyone feeling? And what do we do now?” If you’re not skilled and trained, that’s the beauty of having a panel discussion like this and being exposed to resources. The team, the individuals here, this is the work that we do. We come in as that third-party unbiased person and can lead some of these conversations to help trigger that release valve, to get that elephant, that 500-pound gorilla, maybe not out of the room, but better managed so that we can move forward. So a big part of it is we’re all stressed, we’re all overworked, we’re all challenged, and we need to have the conversation about it in a professional, facilitated way so that we can leverage that for greater work in the future.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, Pierre, that is so beautiful. Having been a MBA professor myself, I know that cycle that you’re talking about. My imagination is once you had that collective conversation, you then built the open door for people to come and I bet you heard some really powerful things from folks one-on-one too.

Pierre Quinn:

Absolutely.

Karin Hurt:

Yeah, absolutely. Okay. Ed, over to you.

Ed Evarts:

Great. Thanks, Karin. Well, in addition to my book, Drive Your Career, I also do leadership coaching and team coaching. I’m often brought in when the team is at this low point, where their energy level or their workload or their stress level has dragged and slowed the team. I love the fact that Julie had talked about humanity and empathy because my experience has been that we’re not showing enough of those, that there’s not too much humanity and too much empathy, but it’s really business reasons that are slowing us down and not people reasons. And so, showing more humanity and showing more empathy are super critical to helping teams reenergize. Especially these days during the pandemic where we’re meeting virtually, a lot of people don’t even know how to show more humanity or show more empathy virtually.

It’s a little easier sometimes when you’re in-person and you can connect with somebody or go visit them or go have a cup of coffee, those types of things that we are also used to doing. Yet today, because we are meeting virtually, we are almost feeling even more distanced from our team members. I have clients who have joined companies and have never been to their office and have physically met anyone else on their team. So their whole experience with these other people have been virtual. And so, the likelihood of team energy slowing things down and not helping make people make progress is greater during these really virtual times. So, I think it’s important that we pause and it’s great that we’re hosting this conversation to think about things you can do as a leader to help reenergize a tired team.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, so well said. Beautiful. Thank you all so much for your insights. You know me, David and I are all about super practical, right? So let’s get really, really practical. You’ve got someone, who I’m sure we have folks listening who are saying, “Here’s the thing. We didn’t think it was going to last this long. My team rallied to the occasion. We did the very best we could with what we have for where we are. We did our fast pivot. We changed out our strategy. We’re all working hard. Now, we’re looking and we thought there’d be a vaccine by now. It looks like it’s going to be a lot longer. What do I do tomorrow to reenergize my team?” If you could say, “I’m just looking at my team and I’m so proud of them and I can tell they’re burned out,” what do we do tomorrow? Eileen, you can give me a… We’ll start with you.

Eileen McDargh:

I do. I really do, and it’s to change pace. When I say change pace, when we’re in and they come together in Zoom where there’s a couple of things that are happening, number one, the way in which we communicate most is by the sound of our voice and the looks in our face. When we’re on a Zoom, we don’t see this. So number one, have everyone have their camera on. I really want to see you. And then when I say change pace, how do we begin to develop that empathy, that humanity, that Julie talked about if we don’t know who really sits there? So come up with some things that change pace. For example, here you’ve got your team together, say, “I want you to look around wherever you are, pick something out that is meaningful to you and we’re going to take two minutes per person. We want you to hold it up and say why is this meaningful to you.”

It’s amazing what you can tell about each other. What we want to do is we want to broaden the definition of the person who’s got the title. This is what their resume says. I want to know you as an individual. You can do that with a lot of fun. I’ve done this with group where I said, “I want to know what’s your favorite song.” You know what’s amazing? When you ask people what their favorite song is, it gives you a whole nother perspective of who’s there, but it’s that changing pace to get back into the full human being instead of just the work person.

Karin Hurt:

Great. Thank you so much. Julie?

Julie Winkle Giulioni:

Yeah. Eileen, what you’re saying just so resonates. In that act of changing the pace, you’re really making connection, and I think that’s the other thing that as leaders we can do. We can facilitate the connections and those connections generate energy. Whilst thus learning something new really helping people figure out what they want to grow in and use this opportunity for conscious intentional development, that infuses greater energy into the mix and it also helps the team perform better as well while creating additional connections.

Karin Hurt:

Julie, I really agree with you. It’s so interesting. I always feel like that. It’s very energizing to feel like you’ve jumped out of an airplane. You’re trying something new and it can feel like when you’re exhausted like, “Oh, do I really want to now take on some additional development thing?” Yeah, probably you do, because that feeling will be energizing and it is a great time to make sure that you feel like you’re not stuck. When you’re developing and you’re investing in your own development, you’re making forward progress, even if other areas of your life are feeling frustrating. Great, thank you so much.

Julie Winkle Giulioni:

That’s a really good point, Karin. Just to piggyback on that, folks are concerned about the future too. That’s part of what’s exhausting us, is anticipating what’s next and development growth can future-proof people, give them something to look forward to there.

Karin Hurt:

Very, very nice. Ed over to you.

Ed Evarts:

Well, I just want to pick up on what Eileen and Julie are saying, because in these times of meeting scheduling, oftentimes we schedule our meetings every other Tuesday at 9:00 AM and we have them planned out for the next six months, but yet at no time do we have what I like to call a unique meeting, which is where we set aside the agenda, we set aside our projects, we set aside the work that we’re doing, and we talk about us and what we want to do and how we want to behave and what we want to talk about. I love the coffee talk and just chatting about what’s going on at home, how you’re surviving, what’s one thing you’re doing a little bit differently than you’ve done before. I’m sure you could list 50 things, but what’s one thing that you’ve done a lot?

These type of meetings where you’re not sticking to a structured format and having a more personalized coffee klatch type meeting is a great way to reenergize people to keep moving forward. If all you ever do is always just talk about the project, I guarantee you, your energy level is going to drop and drop and drop. And so, I love this idea of restarting and refocusing on people and the humanity that Julie talked about earlier and not just a project or initiative that you’re working on.

Karin Hurt:

Very nice. Thank you. Pierre, do you have anything to add on this? You’re very practical. I know you’re all about practical too.

Pierre Quinn:

When you look at students who fare well on standardized testing, ACT, SAT, a lot of it has to do with the exposure to certain vocabulary words at a young age. When we’re dealing with people in work situations and we’re trying to process what’s going on and how we’re feeling, I’ve been finding that a lot of us literally don’t have the emotional vocabulary words to describe what we’re going through. So something super practical, super simple, every leader can do it, look up emotional vocabulary wheel, emotional vocabulary cycle, emotional vocabulary words. When you’re having some of these conversations, instead of asking, “How are you doing?” ask the question, “How are you feeling?” and point to the wheel or the words and allow them to leverage the vocabulary to actually describe what’s going on.

It’s amazing how people will feel empowered once they have an opportunity to attach some words to what’s going on. And then, subsequently, you could follow up with asking, “Okay. You’ve expressed this emotion. This is how you feel. What’s contributing to that emotion? What has happened recently? What changes? What opportunities have led to processing this particular emotion?” But when you put the emotion, the emotional vocabulary in people’s hands, you’ll see that emotional quotient score go up because now they have the words that they could use.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, perfect. I love that. You have answered, I believe, Cassie’s question, what is one great question you can ask people to find out how they’re doing to get them beyond fine? Beautiful. Beautiful. One of the things that I think we need that is all very energizing is creativity, giving people an opportunity to come together, share their ideas to think about things differently. Maybe not creativity for the big, “Oh, let’s change our whole strategy,” but just little creativity that feels energizing because it’s actually actionable that people can do. Do you have any ideas on how to encourage more creativity and innovation at this time?

Eileen McDargh:

Okay. I’ll go.

Karin Hurt:

Okay.

Eileen McDargh:

I am a great believer in the use of metaphor, because I think if a picture’s worth a thousand words, a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures. And so, I’ve done this before with groups. Well, I’ll throw out something that says, “Tell me why this team is like pizza.” People look at you like you’re crazy. It’s amazing what you will find that people begin to say, “Well, we’re really different and we’re better… I think John over there is pepperoni, because he’s really spicy.” I’m making this up right now, but actually that were one of the metaphors that I use.

Metaphor is a great way for people to get larger pictures because you’ve taken it out of the traditional work environment and you invited them to think of it in a totally different way, which is actually where some of the great innovations have come from, whether you’re talking about Velcro and the Swiss engineer that pulls the burr off of his dog to… Or this one I read the other day where they were trying to get tile to stick for tile, carpet tile. What they found as a metaphor was to think about a gecko, because a gecko has little stuff on the bottom of his feet. It can go up a wall. What if we put that on the bottom of the carpet tile? Anyway, so metaphor is one of the ways.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, that’s great. We love using metaphors. One of the very simple team building things that we do is say, “Okay. Draw a picture of the team as you see it today, and then draw a picture of the team as you would like it to be.” Inevitably, people are laughing at their own drawings and all of that, but then you collect the themes. And then from there you can say, “All right. What is the gap and how are we going to get from here to there?” I was working with a CEO the other day. She said, “Remember a couple of years ago when everybody’s had a picture of the house on fire, well, it doesn’t feel like that anymore, right?” So that’s good because pictures stick with you. They do stick with you, metaphors.

Ed Evarts:

Karin, another activity that people can do and picking up on Pierre’s concept of words and phrases and questions to ask is any time that you’re solving a particular problem is to always ask, “What’s another way we can solve this?” This creates really two opportunities. One, it challenges the team to explore it a little bit deeper because oftentimes people think if they come in with an answer, that that’s the answer we’re going to use. It may not be the best answer, or it might not be the most creative answer, but we’ve got a lot of the work to do, so we’re just going to accept it and move forward.

As a leader, you could say, “Hey, before we sign up for that particular challenge, what’s another way that we can solve this?” So it does drive additional levels of creativity, but secondarily, it also helps reinforce that that idea might be the best idea, right? Because you want to ensure that you’re really challenging that the idea that’s being put forth is the best idea. And so, it really satisfies two particular areas that might be great with teams to create and generate this desire to be creative and innovative.

Karin Hurt:

Nice.

Pierre Quinn:

Yeah, I would add to that, Ed, especially when we’re looking at the multiplicity of different tactics and different activities that we could use. I’m a big sports guy. One of the things that you see in team sports is the tendency to feed the person who has the hot hand or who’s giving off the most energy. If we’re used to directing or guiding our meetings a certain way, we’re used to maybe the chief person or lead doing all the facilitation, how can you consider, especially if there’s certain activities that different members on the team resonate with? Let somebody else take the lead. Let someone else share the energy, get out front, and even with their own unique personality and style, drive a portion of what we’re doing so that the team can draft and feed off their energy. As you rotate that, you’ll give people a chance to catch their breath, but you’ll also give people a chance to step up a little bit and really can pull the team through some of those low momentum moments.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, I love that. Julie, I know you’re ready to add something too.

Julie Winkle Giulioni:

Yeah. Yeah. I love that, Pierre. I mean, it’s just a great way of mixing it up, kind of I lean back to what you were talking about, changing the pace. But one other thing that I find is how we look at ideas gets stale, and so, breaking that up. So Ed, piggybacking on what you’re saying, one thing that I find really fun with groups is to approach a brainstorming session from the completely opposite direction with backward brainstorming or reverse brainstorming. So rather than looking at how can we fix this, how can we break this even more? How can we make this just a total hot mess and really turn it into a dumpster fire? And then you reverse those ideas and frequently you come to something more creative than you would have gotten to just going at it in a straight line, but it’s also, again, energizing. Karin, you had mentioned just the idea of creativity. It is Teresa Amabile at Harvard found that it does cap internal motivation. During these times of exhaustion, that’s the reservoir that we need as leaders to be finding and capping.

Karin Hurt:

Beautiful. Eileen?

Eileen McDargh:

Well, another skill set that you could use in this creativity and to bring people out is to actually use some of the principles of improvisation. So improvisation, the first of all of improvisation is that you accept what is given. The response when somebody says, “XYZ,” you go, “Yes, and.” You build on it. If I can get people to laugh, laughter is the shortest distance between two people, that’s one of the most human things that we do. The skills of improvisation can be used in a fun “creativity” session that at the end of it, you say, “You know what, what did we really get out of this?” It allows every voice to be heard and they’re not judged because the idea is you don’t judge what is said. You say, “Yes, and.”

Karin Hurt:

I love it so much. David, I’m glad that you’re liking that. “How can we break this?” Because I’m ready to just to go ask that about our strategy too. No, I’m just kidding. Oh, we’ve been neck deep in strategy session. We don’t need a break anything else. Okay. So, I’d like to ask this final question, which is, okay, I know we have folks listening who say, “Here’s the thing, I just hope my boss is listening to this, but I know they’re not and I’m the one that’s tired. What advice do you have for me?” Who would like-

Ed Evarts:

I’ll go first. I’m a big fan of transparency in the workplace. And so, if you are feeling a certain way, because feelings will drive our behavior, it is important that you’re comfortable having this type of conversation with your boss. And so, it does require some type of relationship with your boss. And so, I’m also a big fan of building relationships in the workplace so that you can have good conversations, as well as tough conversations. You don’t always want to be the one who only brings good news or only brings bad news, but you want to be able to do both. So, one thing you could do, which is one of many, is to be comfortable saying, “Hey, could I have a few minutes with you on Tuesday? I want to talk a little bit about some things that are going on with me,” and say it and talk a little bit about it and see if with your boss, you can come up with some ideas and solutions on how to get you reenergized. Because of course, if you’re reenergized who wouldn’t want more reenergized people on the team?

Karin Hurt:

That’s so important, Ed. I think so often people are nervous. They are worried that they’re going to be judged. I can tell you I’ve been leading for a very long time and I have never had somebody come to me and have that kind of conversation when I was like, “Oh, I wish they had just kept that to themselves.” Right? Okay. Good. Okay. Eileen?

Eileen McDargh:

Thanks, Karin. Because I want to give them a model that you can use to be assertive without being aggressive and particularly if you’re not too sure how your boss is going to see this, describe, explain, specify, and consequence, describe, explain, and specify and consequence. Describe as you describe real time what the situation, the event, whatever. Express how do you feel about it. Specify what is it that you want. Maybe all you want to do is to be heard. Maybe what you want is, “I need to take one day off,” and then see what will happen as a consequence of getting it. You really might end up writing this out first, like a script. In fact, it’s called scripting, describe, explain… Easy for me to say, describe, explain, specify, and consequence. It’s one way that you can have that type of conversation.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, I think that’s so perfect. That is really interesting. One of the things I would find that when I would ask, somebody would come to me and I’d say, “Okay. So, what do you need from me?” and just crickets. They don’t know. So really, that’s a very good methodology and a good way to think that through. I’ll get to everyone else, but Greg Mitchell is saying, “Tough conversations could be its own session.” We love talking about the art of the tough conversations. So Greg, we will definitely have that as a future Asking for a Friend session. Thanks so much. Okay. Other insights, if you’re the one that’s tired. Julie?

Julie Winkle Giulioni:

Yeah. I just want to double click, Eileen, on your specify, because at the end of the day, you’ve got to figure out for yourself what you need and want and bring that forward. Ask, in no uncertain terms for what’s going to be needed for you to be able to sustain your energy through the period to come. I think we have to acknowledge that our bosses are just as exhausted as we are. So to the extent that we can make saying yes easy by bringing that solution to them, it increases the likelihood for everybody to be satisfied at the end of the conversation.

Karin Hurt:

Perfect. Perfect. Okay. Pierre?

Pierre Quinn:

Yeah. I would add to that. Also, as it was expressed, everybody on our team is wrestling with this in some form or fashion and knowing that it’s okay, and not just okay, it’s advised to have conversations in your different circles with the different sets of expectations about what you’re dealing with. So, one of the things I talk about in my book, Leading While Green, is this leadership square. When I talked to my family about being tired, that’s a totally different conversation than when I’m talking to my peers and colleagues about being tired, which is a different conversation from when I’m talking to people I’m coaching or mentoring, which is a different conversation from when I have a conversation with people who are coaching or mentoring me.

So when I’m in these different quadrants of this leadership square, knowing what am I looking for, what am I going to get when I’m having the conversation with my friends and family, with my peers, with my mentees, with my mentor. And then ultimately, as it was expressed before, with my boss, because we can’t have the expectation that we’re going to get the same impact and same perspective from everybody that we talk to.

Karin Hurt:

Wow. Perfect. Perfect. So Greg is saying, “What do you need from me is such a hard question on both sides. As the manager, I want to answers. As the individual contributor, I don’t even know where to begin.” One of the things I would say there is think about if you don’t know what you need, what is it that is the outcome that you are desiring and then you can ask a series of how can we questions. Okay. “I know this is what I want, so how can we do that and have a conversation together?” That’s one approach. Anyone else want to weigh in on Greg’s question? Eileen?

Eileen McDargh:

Something that I’ve done before with groups is reverse goal setting. Maybe I don’t know what I want, but I know what I don’t want. When I can say, “These are the things that I don’t want. These are the things that drain my energy,” so if I can identify those, then I can begin to look at what’s the flip side. What’s the 180 on the other side where I could go? So that might be one way to go after that. The other thing I think is when we have those difficult conversations is to realize that we all need each other, that I come and I mean you no harm. I am here for your good and for my good, and that is an intention that starts and I’m going to use your word courageous, Karin. Courage comes from the French word coeur, coeur de lion, the heart of the lion is really listening to your heart in that energy, which people can feel even when we’re looking at each other remotely on this Zoom call.

Karin Hurt:

Yeah. Good. Good. Okay. Pierre, you look like you wanted to say something.

Pierre Quinn:

No, I was just double clicking on what Eileen [crosstalk 00:33:19].

Karin Hurt:

Double clicking. All right. Well, we are out of time. I want to just thank you so much. What a powerful panel, what incredible insights. Thank you for being here, sharing your expertise. Thank you for being my friend and supporting our Asking for a Friend, and hope to have another conversation again with you soon.

Eileen McDargh:

Thank you. Thank you, Karin.

Ed Evarts:

Thanks, Karin.

The Future of Learning and Development

The Future of Learning and Development: Best Practices and Insights

Chief Learning Officers Share Insights on the Future of Learning and Development

Training and Development (TD) award-winning learning and development leaders share their insights from past successes and discuss the future of learning and development on Asking For a Friend Live with Karin Hurt. We ground the discussion in their new book Forward Focused Learning. The book offers practical best practices and provocative conversation about future of learning and development.

Asking For a Friend: What Are Best in Class Organizations Doing Around Learning and Development?

 

Asking For a Friend: Audience Questions

After each of the panel members shared some of their leadership development best practices and insights from their book, we opened the discussion to the audience. Here a few of their questions about the future of learning and development and best practices based on their learning and development experiences.

forward focused learningQuestion 1:  Are we going back to in-person learning? What is the future of learning and development?  #AskingForaFriend

Panel Response:

Karin Hurt, CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders

There’s so much that’s working: The spaced learning over time, makes even international cohorts of people going through together has become easier. And, of course there’s the reduced cost of travel.  I know a lot of our clients have saved huge amounts from their travel budgets and reallocated that for their learning and development programs. And,  we’re also still yearning to get back together. For some things, you can’t beat face to face.

Let’s bring this important question to the panel.

Andrew Kilshaw, Global transformative HR leader – VPHR / Chief Learning Officer – Shell (ex-Nike, BlackRock)

I have a quick track of that one. I’ve got three, three things super quickly.

1. Learn to serve a diverse workforce

The first is at the moment we’ve got two different groups in the workforce who are having challenges. We’ve got people who are brand new into the workforce, out of college, and people who’ve been in a corporate environment for 20 to 30 years.

The people in the corporate environment for 20 to 30 years have a network and understand how to work in a corporate environment. They’re struggling with how to do it with technology from home. It’s the opposite for those just entering the workforce that they do, sort of natives. However, they don’t have the relationships, the social capital, or now to work in a corporate environment. So we’re trying to solve for different things. That’s the first thing.

2. Change the mindset from “going offsite to going onsite”

The second is I think post virus or post-vaccine at least we’ll move and flip the idea of going to offsite meetings to onsite meetings and coming together physically and face to face will be around social intimacy and building bonds.

And that’s the time you come together. And that we learn to work, that you leave with a more asynchronous collaboration.

3. Leverage technology for more innovation

And lastly, adding technology is going to help us with, as it is already with things like AR and VR. So Shell, for example, we already have had great approaches to doing things like digital twins, where you’re using headsets to say, you know, you’re getting around the physical needs to be proximate to an asset. I think that’s going to become more and more relevant, but you still can’t beat at the end of the day. A little bit of face-to-face.

Dr. Marina Theodotou, Director of Learning Experiences NavalX- TEDxDAU Founder

So I can go next. I think definitely the coronavirus has been the accelerant for, in, for the use transformation. We’ve been thinking about transforming and really, really focusing on transformation over the last couple of years.

And actually,  there is a CLO article by Dr. Hartley, Chief Learning Officer magazine right now that that describes that whole transition and the journey.

But coronavirus has definitely served as the accelerant to virtual learning. In our case, we had to serve 183,000 members of the workforce, and we were able to transform learning within a few days from in-classroom. 80% of our learning was in- classroom prior to COVID to a hundred percent virtual. So with regards to the future, it’s going to be my prediction.

My personal prediction is that going to be a hybrid model where we leverage the abilities and capabilities that technology has given us, including Karin, you mentioned the lower cost and the faster time delivery and this ability to connect with thousands across geographies.  One of the biggest challenges was scale.

So scale cost and timing are three areas that coronavirus has definitely served as an accelerant and prompted us to find new solutions and new ways. And as we look, as we move forward, we are leveraging those three. We’re addressing those three and focusing on a hybrid model. But we’ll leverage what we learned and accentuate what we experienced by connecting in person, which is still viable.

Michelle Braden, Chief Learning Officer and VP of Talent Development, WEX Inc.

I would just add something really quick. I think the future is about innovation and the way we deliver learning. So new learning platforms, new ways. I think we haven’t looked at all the different solutions that are possible now that we’ve opened, people’s mind to this idea of not having to sit in a classroom and not having to be face to face all the time.

Question 2: How do you measure the ROI of Knowledge Transfer and Performance in a Leaders as Teachers Approach? – Kelly Harrison

Panel Response:

Michelle Braden

I think one of the things that we use, the “leaders as teachers” to help other employees learn, but really we’re developing the leaders. So it’s kind of a stealth sort of strategy.

And so, when you’re seeing these leaders getting promoted, when you’re seeing these leaders being performing at a higher level, getting more visibility, et cetera, you can tell that the program is working.

And at the same time, other people are learning from the leaders.

But in my view, who I’m really developing are the leaders.

Karin Hurt

Yeah. There’s nothing that makes you pay attention to the material than when you have to build it or teach it.

How has your CLO role changed to adapt to remote working/remote learning? – Tamar Elkeles

Tamar I’m going to go to this one. So I think, first of all, it’s not just remote learning. It’s the actual meeting employees where they are and what they’re going through. So various industries have been completely and utterly disrupted by this. And because of that, frankly, sometimes learning is not as high on the priority or there are curfews and kids are being homeschooled.

So I think you have to really consider the whole person and their consumability of learning. So you can talk about it being virtual learning.

But that sort of assumes that you’re taking a little bit of either a nugget or curriculum approach to things.

So, I think if you can move from a more systemic approach to learning in this instance where you don’t think about moving from face-to-face to virtual, but you actually think about it becoming more ingrained in the culture.

And you think about things like learner mindset. Because frankly, I can say, let’s say at Shell it’s been a  very disruptive year in terms of the impact on our industry growth. So just trying to work through things differently from home especially for a very relational company.

So not only are you facing new challenges, you’re also trying to do them in a different way as well.

So there’s no cost for that except for really to learn your way into it and have a little bit of humility, a little bit of vulnerability to try some stuff try it way, you know, this, there’s not big downside risk.

If you get it wrong, learn don’t make the same mistake twice. And so I think you just, you start to move to learn in a different way to be honest. And I think that will be time to get a little bit more formulaic and systemic about how we look at the, the, the processes and programs of learning. But for now I think it’s, it’s becoming more of a mindset.

Michelle Braden

So, I think the role has actually changed in that we are able to respond a lot quicker to the needs of the employees in the company and with the remote. It’s like we have to keep our finger on the pulse. So it’s, it’s not like you put a strategy together and then, you know, you have several months to do this and roll it out. No, it’s quick and you’ve got to get things going. And so we are constantly monitoring to see what we can do to help our leaders and our employees.

We put together some programs around leading through disruption, which was hugely popular. People were like, I needed this. And it starts off with taking care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else and that gets to the stuff that you’re talking about.

Question 3: What makes content stick? – Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE

Panel Response:

Dr. Marina Theodotou

Relevance, it’s timeliness and it’s whether it’s actionable. So what we’re seeing in our context within the DOD at the ITU is that content, that sticks is the one that’s a channel and available when the user needs, it went, the learner needs it on the job. That’s the content that is mostly consumed the most.

Michelle Braden

I would add to that. I would add to that also that the repetitiveness of it. So one of the things that we do is we use the same content in different ways. And so no matter how you’re getting at, you know, if you’re reading an article or watching a video or going to a class or doing, having a conversation or in a facilitated discussion where it all helps it stick, if you hear it more than once, and if you can talk about it more than once reflect on it more than once.  Michelle Braden (24:14):

Dr. Marina Theodotou

Yeah. That’s a great point. So we have the course and then we have a webcast around it. And then we have articles that talk about it. We have social media posts that touch on it. So that’s absolutely right. I agree with that.

Karin Hurt

That’s been absolutely integral to the work that we do too. So, it’s been interesting. You know, one of the leadership concepts we talk about is everything that’s important needs to be communicated five times, five different ways. As we design programs, make sure that we’re doing that too, you know, and for, in terms of reinforcement.

Award-Winning Learning Executives Share Insights on the Future of Learning and Development (Full Transcript)

Here we share the full unedited transcript of the future of learning and development conversation in the video above. Please keep in mind this is a direct translation so it’s conversational in nature and meant as a guide as you watch the video.

Intro Music (00:25):

Karin Hurt (00:28):

Karin Hurt and I’m here with our next edition of live asking for a Friend. And I could not be more delighted about these guests today. And we are going to be talking about what best in class learning organizations are doing. I have with us today, three folks, all of whom have won many awards for the learning programs that they’ve developed, and they are the contributors to a brand new book coming out called Forward, Focused Learning.

And so we’ll talk a little bit about some of the insights in their book and their experiences and a little bit about their predictions for the future. So first I’d like to, welcome Andrew Kilshaw

Oh, look, we already have some folks joining. I love it, Joey.

Great to see you again Brad. Terrific to have you at your first live event. Thank you all for being here.

So let’s bring on Andrew Kilshaw who leads a large global team at Shell Corporation.

Karin Hurt (01:31):

And so interestingly, he also has some award-winning programs and a fascinating approach of some work he did at Nike. So we’ll be talking about that as well. Oh, it’s so good to see so many people joining in and some for the very first time. Terrific. And then we also have Dr. Marina Theodotou.  She is the director of learning at the Navy and so has a vast level of experience there.

And then Michelle Braden who leads a global team at WEX. So thank you so much for coming and joining us today. So as people are gathering and we start just really quickly, I’m just so curious, what caused you all to come together to write this book?

So, Michelle, maybe you start just share a little bit, why?

Michelle Braden

So this book was really sponsored by an ATD and we wanted to share thoughts and ideas and things that we’ve done from real experience had real results with the broader learning and development industry.

So we’ve all been asked to share some of the tips that we did, some of the things that we did in our past or some of the strategies we’re using today.

Karin Hurt

Perfect. I’m really, I love the book. Really good insights made me really think about what’s coming next and how, how we need to be thinking about learning. So how about how about you Marina? Why, this book?

Marina Theodotou (03:02):

Yeah, absolutely. So, building on to what Michelle said, we feel we all, as learning development leaders, we have responsibility to always look forward and I love the title of the book Forward Focused Learning.

So,what we did here is we came together and we share practical, actionable, best practices that anyone who reads the book should be able to apply, adopt and adapt into their organization or consider as possible solutions. So super excited to be here.

Karin Hurt (03:34):

Thank you so much. I’m all about practical. So I love it. And Andrew, what would you add?

Andrew Kilshaw (03:39):

Yeah. Hi from London, everybody across the pond. The thing I would add is interestingly, this book was we were asked to write it before the pandemic. So, it’s interesting to see how at this time how some of the theory sounds of the test of time, but in the learning space, my simple answer would be that you know, we don’t we try not to reinvent the wheel. There’s a lot, we can learn from each other, a lot of great work that’s done in this in this sphere. So it’s fantastic to learn the innovations that other people have done and frankly, steal those with pride is the quickest way to get something out. So I’m glad to give it a little bit back of what my teams have done in the past. Perfect.

Karin Hurt (04:16):

Okay. So as you’re joining, I would love for you to chat in any of the questions that you have for our panel. And we will make sure that we, we integrate those into the conversations, but I’ll start with a couple of my own question about learning and development.

So Andrew, I was really interested in your chapter where you were talking about when you’re thinking about learning, you need to think past just the, WHAT you are teaching, but how the interventions that you’re dealing with around the HOW it actually it have an impact on the culture and on what people are learning. And you shared some really interesting ways that you did this at Nike. I’d love just to hear a little bit more about that.

Andrew Kilshaw (04:53):

I’m very much, I approach things as a consumer and interestingly, when I went to work for Nike and United as a consumer, and then you see that the culture inside, and I think, you know, the more experience I get, the more I rely on my sense of purpose, proudly and culture. So for me, purpose is super important, which is the why. So, Simon Sinek talks about what we start with the why. I think that’s more and more important nowadays when everyone’s so busy and you’re fighting for share of mind. So, you’ve got to be very clear between “why” as a learning professional someone didn’t relate with the purpose of what you’re doing. So why should they work with you to learn something? What’s it help what’s it help in terms of the bigger picture or the purpose of that person’s trying to achieve?

Andrew Kilshaw (05:40):

One of the divisions at Nike comes together around making sport a daily habit. So we definitely connected the work we were doing to our bigger sort of reason for existing. The second thing is around brand. So, the personality of the, of the product and your brand, if it’s different, if you’re learning brand is different to your company’s brand, there’s going to be dissonance there. So you need to talk in the same language and have to adapt the same learning personality as your company’s personality. So, for example, right now it’s new year I’m using Noon, which many of you will know and that their personality is very much about the new the science of learning, how to change and build healthy habits. You have three to go 10 minutes a day in terms of micro learning and learning the flow of health, which is fantastic.

Andrew Kilshaw (06:47):

Then lastly on culture is how we do things around here. So I came from BlackRock before, which was a very, it was, it was a very intellectual smart and, you know, lots of PhDs and econometrics. And then you moved from that to a company whose tagline is just do it. So one place was very sort of Socratic, intellectual learning. The other was just giving me the concept for two minutes and let me go play with it and break things, which is just, just do it learning. So that’s what I mean about adapting to the culture.

Karin Hurt (07:18):

Ah, very good. And I loved how you said, you know, Nike, you, and in most places that would be Nike University, but you actually did the “U”  stand for?

Andrew Kilshaw (07:29):

Aspirational statements like unleashing your potential unlimited possibilities of things, things like that, because again, just do it. Isn’t really very academic. It’s not very university and sort of the thousand year, 10 year old, Oxford, Cambridge, it’s more about learning by doing

Karin Hurt (07:51):

All right. Good. So, I’m going to take some of these questions after we get through some of the initial topics here, but I’m going to ask, I’m going to ask David Dye to answer Joey’s question about what is Noon and why don’t you link back about why you think that their methodology is so good from a learning system, because I know you’ve been studying it, we’re thinking about integrating some of their concepts into our micro learning. So, David, I’m going to give that one to you.

Okay. So Marina, I would love to hear from you and particularly your chapter was talking about building an ecosystem and you have five different building blocks that you discussed there. And I’d love to hear a little bit about that, and then particularly given what we’re dealing with right now, which of those building blocks do you think is so critical for us to be considering in the future?

Marina Theodotou (08:41):

Great question. Thanks so much, Karin, for again, the visitation here. So in my chapter, I discussed the five building blocks of a learning ecosystem. And by ecosystem, what I mean is the environment where people connect with people and content and learn and experience learning and create new learning, and also surround themselves with all these different technologies and data and content within, the guard rails of the governance that the organization provides. So we have learning ecosystems that are wide open let’s just exactly what we’re doing here. Linkedin, pretty open, think about all we’re learning and doing, and absorbing through LinkedIn, and also think about the learning ecosystem within your own organization, which is directed by the mission and the strategy of the organization. So the five building blocks are not unknown. There’s the people, the content, the data, the technology, and the governance.

Marina Theodotou (09:50):

So the way we build those, and actually ecosystems typically grow organically, but an organization or learning and development organization is responsible to foster that and allow the growth and provide opportunities for the learners to grow. So when we talk about people, we talk about primarily the employees of the organization, but we also talk about the customers because the more our employees learn and are happy within the organization and they’re growing the research shows that the better the performance and the happier the customers. So there is that direct relationship that ties the importance of a learning ecosystem to the organizational performance. So today you asked which one of these elements is probably the most critical. And I would have to say content because with COVID being the accelerant, we are all aligned. We have no other way of meeting, we’re all aligned. And so we’re all inundated with all this content that is coming at us and we have to be able to discern which one is the most valuable one, and which one is not so valuable at the particular moment, so that we can make sound decisions because we all have limited time. And so I would say content is critical because that’s, what’s going to keep the learners engaged and that’s, what’s going to keep organizations on their toes to provide content that’s relevant and timely and meaningful for the mission.

Karin Hurt (11:36):

Very nice. Thank you, Michelle or Andrew, which are the pillars, do you think is most critical right now?

Andrew Kilshaw (11:44):

I think so. I think the last, the content piece, for sure. But what’s interesting is, you know, if you go back sort of seven, eight years, when you got Yelp open table glass store where you started to get these websites where everybody gets to rate everything curious, what sort of feedback loops do you use and whether you make that public you know, 10, 15 years ago, we used to do the sheets at the end of the classroom to say how good it was. And now, you know, that that’s useless and irrelevant, I think personally because everyone’s talking about it. So I just wonder if you can capture the social feedback to see what the most engaging and sticky content is that way as you think about that content stickiness.

Marina Theodotou (12:37) That’s a great point. I think that technology enables the user to actually read the content. So again, content is at the center, but it’s at the, at the review and evaluation of every user. So, but it’d better be good content. Otherwise the users are going to down vote it and you’re not going to see it again.

Karin Hurt (12:49):

Yeah, Andrew, it’s interesting because we use something, we call our, let’s go leaders, learning lab, which is micro learning. That’s, that’s happening throughout a space learning over time program. So in addition to the live work, and that has been so helpful to make adjustments along the way, you know, what tools are you using? What challenges are you having so that when they come into their next session, it’s a real time adjustment. You don’t have to wait till the end to go, Oh, shoot, they needed more of this or that.

Michelle Braden

We use it. We use a platform called degreed that really aggregates content. And so what I’ve found in the last few years of using this is that rather than developing content, we’re curating content. And if we curate content using a design thinking methodology, to identify you know, the areas that we really need to have a pathway or some thought leadership, and then we can hit the mark a lot better.

Karin Hurt (13:42):

Plus we get feedback from the tool as well. So it’s good all the way around. Very nice. So Michelle, as I go over to you, Marina, I’m going to give you a chat question. So Yohann asked, he’s got four of your five pillars of the ecosystem chatted with the fifth one is for him, there would be good.

Michelle your chapter. It was really talking about high ROI training. And how do you do training if you have a limited budget and it’s not necessarily the size of the budget that we’ll have the biggest impact. And one particular concept you talk about is “leaders as teachers”.

And I know that you and I had some experience together with some of the work that we did together at Telus. And I, I love this concept. Can you tell us what you mean by leaders of teachers and give us a couple of examples of how this has worked particularly well and how it integrates with the more formal programs that you’re doing.

Michelle Braden (14:48)

I think some people, when they hear the term leaders, as teachers, they’re thinking, Oh, you’re going to have a leader come in and teach a class. And that’s really not. It it’s really, we use a lot of different methodologies, a lot of different solutions at Telus.

We use something called “Leaders Unscripted,” and we did interviews with the different leaders and there were 35,000 employees worldwide. And so how do we get leaders in front of those employees? So, we asked them about hints and tips for leadership. What would they tell people if they had a group sitting in front of them, what’s the biggest mistake they made, how did they overcome? What was their  favorite book, you know, all these different things. So we did these interviews, we created a series of videos and we combined whiteboard animation with the live video. And so, it made it a lot more interesting and they were hugely popular.

Another strategy we used was something we called “In session”, which was really like a mini Ted talk, or maybe expanded TED talk, but we would have leaders talk about some topic that they were passionate about.

I mean, it could be anything, it could be work-related personal-related whatever they did, one like on finding your mojo or keys to success or whatever. And then we would, we would work with them to get them ready to deliver this. They would deliver it and we’d record it, put it on the LMS. And those again were hugely popular. And one thing that we’ve found is that the leaders were learning probably as much as the learners when they were doing these sessions. And now with the formal programs we’re doing, we’re doing facilitated conversations where we invite leaders in to talk about certain topics and it’s like an hour long conversation. So it doesn’t take a lot of time and it takes $0, zero.

Marina Theodotou (16:33):

I love that. If I could interject about the Defense Acquisition University. I’m on rotation to Naval X, the department of the Navy. But my home is the Defense Acquisition University and we did TEDx DAU here. We did one in 2019 and 2020 with 12 speakers each. So totally agree with what Michelle mentioned. Those Ted talks were so powerful. It was an internal event. And we had over 60,000 views in the first year. And for the second year we went all virtual. We had 5,600 registrants and over 3000 people actually participated the day of the event. So very, very powerful. So I love that you mentioned that it’s a great way to bring people together. And the way we selected the speakers, we went all across the DOD and the national security environment ecosystem. And we were very deliberate about the diversity of the speakers across age, rank service gender geography, and that really attracted the thousands of learners across the year.

Michelle Braden (17:45):

Yeah, we did it on a volunteer basis, but what happened was, it was interesting because at the beginning it was hard to get anyone to volunteer, but once they started being pushed out and people started watching them, they realized they were getting a lot of visibility from it. So they were, it was almost like a spotlight, you know, for the person who was doing it. So it became kind of like a badge, if you did one of those. Yes. You’re in,

Marina Theodotou (18:10):

Well, I love that. Ours was a formal learning experience. We had a TEDx licensed event that I had the honor of leading. So it was a great, great engagement.

Michelle Braden (18:25):

I think the trick on doing those is (and I did the chapter on do more with less) But the trick on doing those is, you know, doing things with less, but not making it look like you did. So it’s being scrappy, you know, it’s like, you’re on a beer budget, but you’re really serving champagne. So, you know, it’s, it’s that kind of analogy. And I think that’s really, really key to the work that we do.

Karin Hurt (18:51):

Very nice. So Kelly Harrison is asking,

“How do you measure the success of knowledge transfer and performance  do either any of you that are doing leaders as teachers have a way that you do that, because that might be a little more difficult to measure, but so do you have a way that, you know, whether it’s working?

Michelle Braden (19:10):

Well, you know, I’m going to address this first? I think one of the things that we use, the leaders as teachers to help other employees learn, but really we’re developing the leaders. So it’s kind of a stealth sort of strategy. And so when you’re seeing these leaders getting promoted, when you’re seeing these leaders being performing at a higher level, getting more visibility, et cetera, you can tell that the program is working. And at the same time other people are learning from the leaders. But in my view, who I’m really developing are the leaders.

Karin Hurt (19:50):

Yeah. There’s nothing that makes you pay attention to the material and whether you have to build it or teach something a concept than to have to know, you’re having to teach that next. Right. And so I

Speaker 3 (20:01):

Totally agree with you. Yeah. They act like forced monthly flyers. Essentially. We follow the same model with Naval likes. We’ve been able to X learning ecosystem and Karin, I didn’t want to respond to your hand. Those are the five building blocks to learn more. They’re in chapter four in the book,

Karin Hurt (20:23):

Yeah. Yohann is coming to us from Jamaica. We had an opportunity to do a leadership development program back when we could travel over there. Okay. Jared, can you pop us a couple of questions from the audience here? Cause I know they’ve had some great ones coming in.

Karin Hurt (20:42):

How has your CLO role changed to adapt to a remote or remote Learning environment? Fantastic question Tamar.

Andrew Kilshaw (20:52):

As a good one, Tamar I’m going to go to this one. So I think first of all, it’s not just the remote learning. It’s the actual meeting employees where they are and what they’re going through. So various industries have been completely and utterly disrupted by this. And because of that, frankly, sometimes learning is not as high on the priority or there are curfews and kids are being homeschooled.

So I think you have to really consider the whole person and their consumability of learning. So you can talk about it being virtual learning. But that sort of assumes that you’re taking a little bit of a either nugget or curriculum approach to things. So I think if you can move from a more systemic approach to learning in this instance where you don’t think about moving from face-to-face to virtual, but you actually think about it becoming more ingrained in the culture.

And you think about things like learner mindset. Because frankly I can say, let’s say at Shell it’s been a  very disruptive year in terms of the impact on our industry growth. So just trying to work through things differently from home especially for a very relational company. So not only are you facing new challenges, you’re also trying to do them in a different way as well. So there’s no cost for that except for really to learn your way into it and have a little bit of humility, a little bit of vulnerability to try some stuff try it way, you know, this, there’s not big downside risk.

If you get it wrong, learn don’t make the same mistake twice. And so I think you just, you start to move to learn in a different way to be honest. And I think that will be time to get a little bit more formulaic and systemic about how we look at the, the, the processes and programs of learning. But for now I think it’s, it’s becoming more of a mindset.

Michelle Braden (22:39):

So, I think the role has actually changed in that we are able to respond a lot quicker to the needs of the employees in the company and with the remote. It’s like we have to keep our finger on the pulse. So it’s, it’s not like you put a strategy together and then, you know, you have several months to do this and roll it out. No, it’s quick and you’ve got to get things going. And so we are constantly monitoring to see what we can do to help our leaders and our employees.

We put together some programs around leading through disruption, which was hugely popular. People were like, I needed this. And it starts off with taking care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else and that gets to the stuff that you’re talking about.

Karin Hurt.

So Eileen, McDargh is also a friend of mine and she’s a keynote speaker and all about resiliency. So she’s asking what makes content stick. ?

Marina Theodotou (23:46):

Relevance, it’s timeliness and it’s whether it’s actionable. So what we’re seeing in our context within the DOD at the ITU is that content, that sticks is the one that’s a channel and available when the user needs, it went, the learner needs it on the job. That’s the content that is mostly consumed the most.

Michelle Braden (24:14):

I would add to that. I would add to that also that the repetitiveness of it. So one of the things that we do is we use the same content in different ways. And so no matter how you’re getting at, you know, if you’re reading an article or watching a video or going to a class or doing, having a conversation or in a facilitated discussion where it all helps it stick, if you hear it more than once, and if you can talk about it more than once reflect on it more than once.

Marina Theodotou (24:45):

Yeah. That’s a great point. So we have the course and then we have a webcast around it. And then we have articles that talk about it. We have social media posts that touch on it. So that’s absolutely right. I agree with that. Michelle

Karin Hurt (25:00):

That’s been absolutely integral to the work that we do too. So it’s been interesting. You know, one of the leadership concepts we talk about is everything that’s important needs to be communicated five times, five different ways. As we design programs, make sure that we’re doing that too, you know, and for, in terms of reinforcement.

Okay, fantastic. Catalysts for virtual or future contributed to desire for in-person learning and ecosystem. This is a really important question here. You know, are we going back it’s on everyone’s minds because I think, you know, some of what we see is there are things that we can do that are actually better with remote learning.

It’s the spaced learning over time, the international cohorts of people going through together has become easier. Not the cost of the travel, right? I know a lot of our clients have saved huge amounts of travel budget for their learning programs, but we’re also still, I know I want to get back in a classroom. What do you think this is a perfect one to end with here? So what do you think?

Andrew Kilshaw (26:02):

I have a quick track of that one. I’ve got three, three things super quickly. The first is at the moment we’ve got two different groups in the workforce who are having challenges. We’ve got people who are brand new into the workforce, out of college and people who’ve been in a corporate environment for 20 to 30 years.

The people in the corporate environment for 20 to 30 years have a network and understand how to work in a corporate environment. They’re struggling how to do it with technology from home. It’s the opposite for the those just entering the workforce that they do, sort of natives. However, they don’t have the relationships, the social capital or now to work in a corporate environment. So we’re trying to solve for different things. That’s the first thing. The second is I think post virus or post vaccine at least we’ll move and flip the idea of going to offsite meetings to onsite meetings and coming together physically and face to face will be around social intimacy and building bonds.

And that’s the time you come together and that we learn to work– that you leave with a more asynchronous collaboration. And lastly, adding technology is going to help us with, as it is already with things like AR and VR. So Shell, for example, we already have had great approaches to doing things like digital twins, where you’re using headsets to say, you know, you’re getting around the physical needs to be proximate to an asset. I think that’s going to become more and more relevant, but you still can’t beat at the end of the day. A little bit of face-to-face.

Karin Hurt (27:21):

Very good. Thank you so much, Andrew. I’d love everyone to answer this question because I think this is a, what is your prediction for the future? Where are we headed?

Marina Theodotou (27:29):

So I can go next. I think definitely the coronavirus has been the accelerant for, in, for the use transformation. We’ve been thinking about transforming and really, really focusing on transformation over the last couple of years.

And actually there is a CLO article by Dr. Hartley, Chief Learning Officer magazine right now that that describes that whole transition and the journey. But coronavirus has definitely served as the accelerant to virtual learning. In our case, we had to serve 183,000 members of the workforce, and we were able to transform learning within a few days from in classroom. 80% of our learning was in classroom prior to COVID to a hundred percent virtual. So with regards to the future, it’s going to be my prediction.

My personal prediction is that going to be a hybrid model where we leverage the abilities and capabilities that technology has given us, including Karin, you mentioned the lower cost and the faster time delivery and this ability to connect with thousands across geographies. Would you scale one of the biggest challenges was scale.

So scale cost and timing are three areas that coronavirus has definitely served as an accelerant and prompted us to find new solutions and new ways. And as we look, as we move forward, we are leveraging those three. We’re addressing those three and focusing on hybrid model. But we’ll leverage what we learned and accentuate what we experienced by connecting in person, which is still viable because

Karin Hurt (29:42):

We have, we’re losing so much body language and energy from just the virtual. But thank you. Thanks Michelle. Anything to add?

Michelle Braden (29:52)

I would just add something really quick. I think the future is about innovation and the way we deliver learning. So new learning platforms, new ways. I think we haven’t looked at all the different solutions that are possible now that we’ve opened, people’s mind to this idea of not having to sit in a classroom and not having to be face to face all the time.

I think now we have an opportunity to exploit that. Very nice.

Karin Hurt

Thank you. I want to just thank all of you these authors of Forward Focused Learning. I highly recommend this. If you are a learning professional, if you are involved in strategy, this is a great book for you to pick up and it’s chapter by chapter.

Karin Hurt (30:33):

So it’s nice as Michelle was saying to us, appreciate it. It’s a nice book that you can read with your learning professional team and have a bit of a book group around it. So I know that we did not get to all the questions today. And so here’s what I would say is let’s keep this, this information going in the chat. If there’s an article that you think would be helpful to our listeners that you want to include I’ll put a link to where people can get the book. And if you want to answer any of these questions in the chat, or if anybody wants to answer one another’s questions, it doesn’t need to just be the folks on the call. Let’s have this important conversation.

Let’s keep the dialogue going. Thank you so very much for being asking for a friend.

Your turn: What would you add?

What are some of your learning and development best practices?

What are you most optimistic about when it comes to the future of learning and development?

What were your biggest learning and development takeaways from this interview?

How Do I Find the Perfect Mentor?

How do I find the perfect mentor?

More Mentors are Better Than One- The Art of Micro-Mentoring

The perfect mentor can be really hard to find. If you’re like most managers we talk with, you’ve got more than one area you’re working to develop. And the same person who is great with executive presence may struggle with strategic thinking. While the leader who is a master at peer relationships may struggle with managing up.

And then there’s the time factor. The most developmentally focused leaders are often all mentored out.

I remember when I was in my last few years at Verizon, I’d get several new mentoring requests every week. I would feel terrible, but at some point, my mentoring dance card was full.

What I found myself saying was, “I don’t have time for any more long-term mentoring commitments right now, but if you have something specific you’re working on and you think I can help, I would be happy to set up some time to discuss.

Those were meaningful and fun conversations for both of us, and I’ve been told the approach was helpful.

What If Instead You Found a Series of Micro-Mentors

If you’re struggling to find the perfect mentor, what if, instead you built a series of micro-mentors.

  1. Make a list of developmental priorities– identify what specifically you are looking to learn or improve.
  2. Notice who you really admire in that arena
  3. Ask them if they’d be open to a 15 minute conversation (I share more about how to do that in this video)
  4. Follow-up, thank them and share how you were able to implement their advice.

 

4 Ways to Be a Better Mentee

Whether you looking for one perfect mentor, or are looking to have a go with this micro-mentoring approach, these tips can help.

1. Know What You’re Looking to Accomplish

Determine specifically what you’re looking to achieve from your work together or in your micro-mentoring conversation.

Is there something about your mentor’s background or skill set that you want to learn? Perhaps they’re particularly good at navigating the political landscape, or great during times of stress. Or maybe you’re looking for better insights into how you’re being perceived in the organization or support in expanding your network with a few key introductions. As with all relationships, you’ll be more successful if you both are clear on your expectations for your work together. Have an open conversation about expectations upfront to determine if you’re aligned.

2. Be Truly Open to Feedback

If you’re going to ask for feedback and advice, be sure you’re listening. You don’t have to agree or act on it, but be sure to be open and say thank you. Nothing will turn off your new mentor more than a defensive argument about why their perception isn’t accurate.

3. Offer to Help

The best mentoring relationships are reciprocal– both human beings grow in the process. Ask what you can do to be helpful to them– even if it’s rolling up your sleeves and pitching in on a project they’re doing.

4. Bring Conversation Starters

It can be good to come with a few “starter” questions to break the ice.

  • What are you most excited about in terms of the future of our organization? Why? How can I best prepare to add the most value?
  • Which skills and behaviors do you think are required to be successful in my role? What advice do you have for accelerating my learning curve on those?
  • I’m interested in learning more about working in your department. Who might be a few rockstars to talk with and learn from?

See Also: 6 Secrets to A Successful Mentoring Program

How to Give Your Team Better Executive Exposure

How Do I Deal With a Suspected Two-Faced Leader?

How Do I Deal With a Suspected Two-Faced Leader?

When you’re a manager of managers, one of the most important parts of your job is to know the managers on your team are leading well. Which can be tricky. Because every now and then you run into a two-faced leader, who acts one way in your presence, and completely different when you’re not around.

I’ve been there. And it’s not easy, but dealing with this scene is so vital for morale, productivity, employee engagement, and culture.

Two-faced leaders destroy culture, break trust, and diminish results.

Working with a two-faced leader can be frustrating when it’s a peer. But even more terrifying when you realize that Ms. Two-Faced is actually a direct report snowing you with her charm and strategic stories of effective leadership, all the time hiding what’s really going on behind closed doors.

You see:

  • Receptivity to feedback
  • Helpful approaches
  • Warm engagement
  • Inclusive discussions
  • Calm and helpful meetings

Her team sees:

  • Threats and ultimatums
  • Micro-management
  • Yelling
  • Disorganization
  • Mismanaged stress

And if this is going on, chances are her team is too scared to tell you.

5 Ways to Deal with a Suspected Two-Faced Leader

1. Hang around

Show up unexpectedly. Engage with the team in casual settings where they’re more likely to open up.

2. Conduct skip-level one-on-ones

Talk about their leadership style. Inquire about support. Ask what they need most. Ask for examples of great leaders. Some brave guys will bring up “two-faced.”  Avoiding the subject is also data.

3. Conduct a 360

Ms. two-faced may not fully recognize the differences in style with different audiences. Conduct an assessment, invite candor, and show her the data.  Get her a coach.

4.Ask her

Don’t wait until you have files full of evidence. Ask questions without confrontation. “How would you describe your leadership style? How does that play out in these different contexts?” “What would your team say about you” Watch for body language.

5. Talk to her peers

They’ve heard the stories, and have felt the repercussions. They didn’t want to throw her under the bus, but “since you asked” they are more likely to tell you.

Winning Well

Your turn.

What advice do you have for a friend dealing with a two-faced leader?

For more Asking For Friend advice or to ask a question for a friend for Karin to answer click here.

David Burkus

How Do I Get Better at Leading Remote Teams? with David Burkus

In this interview with David Burkus, author of the new book Leading From Anywhere, we talk about leading remote teams for the long haul and practical tools and approaches to take your remote leadership to the next level.

Advanced Skills for Leading Remote Teams

  1. Connect your team to meaningful vision and purpose, “Ask, what are we fighting for?”
  2. Create psychological safety (for more on this read our Courageous Cultures foreword by Harvard’s Dr. Amy Edmonson)
  3. Avoid disruption through more deliberate synchronous and asynchronous communication
  4. Hold shorter, purpose-driven meetings
  5. Nurture creativity and new ideas by breaking down conversation (issue, ideas, decisions)

If you’re looking for more tools and resources for leading remote teams, visit our Let’s Grow Leaders remote team’s resource center.

Linkedin LIVE on Leading Remote Teams with David Burkus and Karin Hurt (Transcript Highlights)

Connecting Your Team to Meaningful Mission and Purpose

Ask “What are we fighting for?”

How do I make the mission and vision of the company, affect people’s day-to-day lives? And the irony is the engagement numbers haven’t moved, right?

David Burkus (02:49):

In some cases, they’ve gotten worse,  but I’m going to blame that on a lot of different factors. But it, it hasn’t moved the needle.

And I think one of the questions is that there’s not that sense of clarity and there’s not that sense of where we’re really working toward something important, something that will make the world a better place.

And so I started cutting through all of that and asking teams or even individuals when it came to mission and purpose, I would go, you know, I don’t care if you know it, most companies write such a complicated mission statement that like, I wouldn’t be able to memorize it either.

But when I asked them the question,
“Hey, you know, when we think about our organization, what are we fighting for?”

What About Psychological Safety When Leading Remote Teams?

David Burkus (07:53):

And when, when people invest trust in us, it releases that oxytocin, we’re more likely to respond with trustworthy behavior. And so if you’re a leader looking to actually build trust in a team, you need to think about it that way.

What are the things you can do to demonstrate that you actually already trust your people?

This is an interesting conversation by the way, in this world of work from anywhere.

David Burkus (08:38):

So as a leader, I think it’s a little bit of letting go that you have to do…. One of the biggest things you can do is when you’re working early with a team and they’re looking to you to make a decision, make sure you’re demonstrating the rationale behind that decision. Not just because here’s what it is, but you want to be understood. You want people to understand how you’re thinking so that gradually you can actually delegate that decision once your team has a great idea of that kind they have learned from you, what you think and, and the wisdom that you have to give the rest of the team. You can let them make the decision.

David Burkus (09:13):

And then you end up usually at a very similar decision, but through a sense of trust and a sense of camaraderie that wouldn’t have happened if you just snapped to that decision. Right? So little things you can do like that. I think that also means not engaging in a uniform standard of checking in with people. You know, you don’t need to do a 15 minute zoom call all Friday, stack the ball on Friday afternoon. And then again on Monday to say, what are you going to work on this week? Everybody manages their workflow a little bit differently, especially in this environment and the leaders who actually trust their people are the leaders who go through that feeling out process to find out how can I make sure that you have the autonomy to work? However you want. You don’t feel like I’m breathing down your neck, but you know, I’m here for you anytime you need help.

On Trust and Security

Karin Hurt (09:54):

Yeah. It’s so interesting. About eight years ago, uh, I was involved in this experiment of having call center agents working from home and it was so fascinating. I mean, the dealing with it, dealing with the security, dealing with CPNI issues…

We talked about, Oh, should we put cameras in people’s offices so we can watch them like radically different conversation. And now I’m laughing because I watched, you know, our call center clients in one week back in March, move everybody home. They’re where they’re at right now. It’s amazing how, in a sense of urgency, how see how much simpler it got and guess what it’s working out. Great.

David Burkus (10:39):

I remember a lot of rhetoric in April and May about what software systems should we use the monitor employees, fancy term for spying on them. And that’s, and I just remember thinking again, through this idea of trust and autonomy, mutual respect, psychological safety, that like, if you couldn’t, if you couldn’t send your call center employees home on a week’s notice and trust that they would do their job without being monitored, you screwed up a long time ago, right?

How Do I Create Boundaries Between Work and Home?

Karin Hurt (11:23):

What you were writing was reminding me of the conversations I’m having literally every day, which is people are not finding that their employees are not working enough. They’re finding that their employees are working too much. I think, and this is, I think this is the next big problem we’re going to have is that more and more people are going to be burned out, stressed out and they can’t have the boundaries. And what I like is that you really did give some, we’re all about really practical advice on this, like really practical ways to do that. Can you share a few of those tips?

David Burkus (12:43):

And so everything that we can do as leaders to help people avoid burnout is really about making those distinctions that’s the little things. Right? So that can be little things like teaching people to set business hours, not the normal nine to five, but to actually plan it out in your calendar, when are you going to be working? And when are you not so that, you know you’re off right now, or rituals, are you going to use that replace the commute? Right. So like for me I have two devices and when I leave this room, which is in the basement of our house, when I leave this room, I go upstairs to a charging station and I switched my phone for a tablet. The tablet has nothing work-related on it. It’s like my personal Facebook account and then Netflix and Kindle and, and that’s it.

What Can Senior Leaders Do to Model the Way?

Karin Hurt (14:14):

So Jonathan Green, who is also a friend of mine (coming in the LinkedIn Live chat) says leadership not disconnecting is a real issue when leading remote teams. So I want to turn that into a question.

“What do you do if your leaders are not turning it off? They’re not setting boundaries, but they’re telling you, it’s okay for you too?”

David Burkus (14:33):

Yeah. So this is a huge problem that predates the great work from home experiment, right? The idea that we care about work-life balance and you being off work, but we’re also sending you emails at 1130 at night, right. Um, and this is something that, that really needed to stop, um, kind of a long, long time ago. I think now the best thing you can do is be first, you’ve got to commit to disconnecting. If you say that our work hours are this, or you say that are times where we don’t expect email responses, this is actually the big one for a lot of leaders. If you say that 24 hours is a reasonable amount of time to wait for an email, then you have to wait 24 hours. Right. So it starts with you and it starts with drawing those up.

The irony…

David Burkus (15:12):

The irony, of course, is that leaders are the most burnout by this whole thing that we’ve been running through. So they’re the biggest incentive to be the ones drawing up those boundaries. And then when you have those boundaries be showy about those boundaries, right? You don’t need to apologize if someone sends you an email at 6:00 PM and you don’t reply till six 30. Right. You don’t have to say, Oh, I’m sorry, I’m just seeing this.

Of course, you’re just seeing this now, because you turned off that device at five o’clock. Right. Um, so I think those little things go a long way. I think the problem is, like you said, about challenges with it before. Well, one of the, one of the big problems is this is a senior leadership and it level issue, but it’s also a team issue. And so if you can’t get senior leadership to go, yeah, we probably should turn off the email servers at some point at night and turn them back on at 8:00 AM. Then you, as a leader, need to have that discussion with your team to go, okay, what are the standards we’re committing to inside of this team? And then hold, hold yourself accountable to them first and let other people, I don’t want to say fall in line, but follow your lead.

Communication in Remote Teams

Karin Hurt (20:48):

Okay. I want to shift gears to my favorite part of your book because this is, this is an area, this concept of in remote work environment, synchronous communication, asynchronous communication. And I’m going to share with you my favorite sentence from your book.

So you say asking employees to keep a group chat open is like demanding they attended all day meeting with no agenda where participants come in and out at random and speak only in sentence fragments, as you’re asking them to commit to the work that they’re doing right here, what could go wrong?

David Burkus (22:39):

The problem is that a lot of us choose tools that were actually designed for asynchronous communication and then have expectations that it’s synchronous, whether that’s expecting an email reply in the next hour or feeling like you always have to be in that Slack channel because if you’re not, you might miss something. And that the tools are getting a little better than this like threaded discussions in Slack actually make it a totally different tool.

And when it was like, if it was like trying to do a business meeting and a Chucky cheese before that but, but the point is we can’t pick the right tool until we break out of that and have that conversation. What are the subjects of the issues and the types of communication we need to commit to as being asynchronous, project updates, requests for help, all of those sort of things can usually be asynchronous? And then what are the things and the subjects and the times that we want to have synchronous communication. Once we settle that, then we can think about what the tool for talking about those specific issues is, right? It’s usually not Slack, by the way, it’s usually a project management software. If you’ve committed to the idea that this is asynchronous communication.

Your turn.

What would you add? What are some of your best-advanced strategies for leading remote teams?

how to keep the team motivated

How Do I Keep My Team Energized and Motivated in the Schlog? #AskingForAFriend

It’s a new year- but not much has changed. How do you keep your team energized and motivated as the schlog continues? Today I share 4 ways to keep your team motivated as the challenge of the pandemic continues.

I was snowshoeing with a friend the other day, and she told me how worried she was about her team. They were all Slacking one another and talking about how great it was for 2020 to be behind them, and looking for a fresh start in the new year. But the challenge is, the turn of a calendar is not going to change much and she is concerned for their mental health.  And of course, she wants to help keep her team energized and focused.

4 Ways to Keep Your Team Energized and Motivated During Difficult Times

  1. Acknowledge the reality of the scene.
  2. Break down big goals into smaller projects to keep a sense of momentum.
  3. Keep your team focused on what they can control—and limit the number of people you include in the broader contingency planning.
  4. Invite people to talk about their personal goals … just a few of my thoughts.
What would you add? How are you keeping your team energized and focused in the new year?

Some Additional Resources to Help

How to Start the New Decade in Deeper Conversations (or most popular blog post of 2020)

Strategic Planning Tool: How to Engage Your Team in Better Conversation

How to Lead When Your Team is Exhausted

4 U.G.L.Y. Conversations to Have By Year End

Nate Regier

Compassionate Accountability: How to Build a More Compassionate Workplace

In this Asking For a Friend LIVE interview with Dr. Nate Regier of Next Element, Karin and Nate talk about how to build a more compassionate workplace and share practical approaches for balancing accountability and compassion.

How Do I Build a More Compassionate Workplace (Transcript Excerpts)

“I just want to say right out, compassion is a leadership strategy. It is the way we do our work. It’s not something we do on the side. I coach a lot of leaders and one of the most common struggles they have is they have over-indexed to kindness and they’ve dropped the ball on accountability. Compassion includes both. If you’re compassionate without accountability, you can’t get anything done, but accountability without compassion gets you alienated, so the two have to co-exist in everything that we do to really be a viable business strategy.”

– Dr. Nate Regier

What is a Compassionate Workplace?

Karin Hurt:

Definitely. Let’s talk about compassion. When you say “Creating a compassionate organization,” or “Compassion in the workplace,” what do we mean by “compassion”?

Nate Regier:

Yeah, it’s traditionally been a very soft word, I think. When I hear “compassion,” at least when I was growing up, I thought of these famous people like Mother Teresa or Gandhi that were just doing all these incredible selfless acts of service for everyone out there. My parents were missionaries, I grew up overseas in Africa, and so I saw a lot of service and I thought, “Well, that’s compassion, is you go just help people.” But really, compassion as a culture, if you look at the root of the word, the Latin root of “compassion” means “with struggle, with suffer,” so compassion means to struggle with people. That’s the best definition of work culture that I’ve ever thought of is we are struggling together towards some common goal, something amazing.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, I love that. I noticed in your book you were talking about struggling together as opposed to conflict struggling against. Can you tell me a little more about that?

What Does it Mean to Struggle Together?

Nate Regier:

Yeah. Well, like you, we work with a lot of organizations and companies and leaders where conflict has created lots of casualties, or it seems to create casualties, which is why I named my book the opposite, but conflict isn’t inherently a bad thing. Conflict is simply the gap between what we want and what we’re experiencing at any point in time and there’s a lot of energy in that gap, to be sure, but the real question is: How do we spend that energy? Misusing the energy of conflict leads to drama, but when we leverage that energy, it can be a very transformational source of energy for us. I really believe that compassion is the actual mechanism to turn conflict energy into something creative.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, very nice. Would you say that compassion is the same thing as empathy?

What’s the Difference Between Compassion and Empathy?

Nate Regier:

No, it’s not. Many people think that compassion is empathy in action: “My heart goes out to you. I feel your pain. I feel your suffering. I want to go alleviate that suffering.” That’s what compassion, we’ve come to think of it as, but that’s actually not the case. Research on empathy shows that empathy actually triggers the pain centers of the brain and over time, a lot of empathy leads to burnout, like healthcare providers, people that are on the front lines. Compassion, though, the practice of actively being involved with somebody towards a common goal, actually triggers the dopamine and reward centers of the brain and it’s energizing and fulfilling. Empathy is actually one of nine strategies we teach to practice compassion, but it’s not compassion.

Karin Hurt:

Hmm. Oh, very nice. I’ve been thinking a lot about this in our work with our clients and the conversations that we’ve been having. We’re hearing a lot of people almost over-indexed on what they would say is empathy or compassion and now I’m hearing, “Okay, and we need to keep the business going.” I mean, has the pendulum gone too far or are you hearing that? How do you do both, showing up incredibly compassionate, and run a successful business?

Nate Regier:

I just want to say right out, compassion is a leadership strategy. It is the way we do our work. It’s not something we do on the side. I coach a lot of leaders and one of the most common struggles they have is they have over-indexed to kindness and they’ve dropped the ball on accountability. Compassion includes both. If you’re compassionate without accountability, you can’t get anything done, but accountability without compassion gets you alienated, so the two have to co-exist in everything that we do to really be a viable business strategy.

What is Compassionate Accountability?

Karin Hurt:

Okay, terrific. I’m going to ask you about that in a minute because that’s some of the favorite parts of your work. I just love this compassionate accountability. But before I do that, I want to, just in case you’re just joining us, I’m here with Nate Regier from Next Element. We’re talking about some of the compassion in the workplace, particularly from his book, Conflict Without Casualties. Nate, I’ve got to tell you, compassionate accountability, when you talk about what that looks like, and you even in your book give a really good example of a peer coaching conversation that happened. I’d love to unpack that a little bit for us.

Nate Regier:

Sure, sure. Well, like I said, we’ve noticed that we can’t over-index on either end of this pendulum, that we have to find the balance. I think in the balance where conflict, or sorry, where compassion and accountability intersect is most obvious and needed when there’s conflict. Let’s say that I have a situation where maybe a peer of mine is not meeting a work expectation and I’ve got an issue with it. I care about that. I’m ultimately responsible for it. Maybe a client relationship is at stake and I want to talk to them about that, so this difficult conversation to balance compassionate accountability has to start at a place that we call “openness.”

Nate Regier:

How do we reinforce that we are two equally valuable human beings? Nobody’s going to get hurt in this conflict, but we’re going to talk about the tough stuff, so I might start by saying, “I’m feeling really anxious about what’s going on here.” Then I got to get clear about what is it. Explain the situation without blaming anybody: “Here’s what I saw,” or “Here’s what’s going on, here’s what I found out.” Then the accountability part is what we call “persistence.” Every compassionate conversation has to include talking about “Why does this matter?’ What’s most important? What’s at stake here? Why would we even go to the effort to have conflict with each other?

Nate Regier:

I might finish by saying “At the end of the day, what’s really important for me is that we uphold our promises to our customer.” Then I would check back in with the person and say, “How are you feeling about this?” We bookend the conversation with safety, vulnerability, openness, and in the middle, we talk about here’s what’s happening, here’s why it’s important. That should be a daily conversation between leaders and their people.

How do I Hold a Poor Performer Accountable?

Karin Hurt:

Yeah. We always say if you are letting someone be a poor performer, that is not kind, right?

Nate Regier:

No, no.

Karin Hurt:

You are not serving them when you let people get away with things. How do you think about this now in this context where people say, “I get it, but I know what’s going on for people at home. I know what they’re dealing with. I understand. They got a parent in a nursing home, but their performance is suffering so much right now”? How would you coach in a situation where performance has definitely continued to degrade, but you also know that there is context and the context is not likely going away for folks for a while?

Nate Regier:

Yeah. Oh, such a good question. Just yesterday, I had this call. I spent an hour with an executive around this very situation. There’s plenty of circumstances that would invite us to have empathy, to realize that, “Yeah, there’s a lot going on in this person’s life.” I think it helps. We really need to distinguish the difference between caring about someone and having attention to results and that both of those can coexist. Of course, we’re going to give people breaks now and then. Everybody deserves a day off, everybody deserves to be able to just check out because something’s going on.

What is the Most Important Job of a Leader?

Nate Regier:

But over the long haul, leaders really only have three jobs. Job number one is to create a safe place where you really know what’s going on and people can talk to you. Job number two is to be a resource without solving the problem because your job is to build capability in others, not be the problem-solver. Then job number three is to always be crystal clear about the expectations, the goals, and the boundaries. When you do those three things and don’t cross the line, people can step up even during adversity because they know you care about them and they know that you’re a resource for them and they know what’s expected.

Karin Hurt:

What About Workplace Drama?

Nate, I’m curious: Sometimes I hear people say, “I’m worried that if I am too compassionate, I will bring on the drama.” I know you are an expert in workplace drama, that was your first book, so I’d love just to shift gears a little bit and talk about that.

Nate Regier:

Well, I really appreciate that question. Michelle and Luisa have commented on this already here about how do we draw that fine line. Again, that conversation that I just showed an example of, that hits three very important points along what we call the “compassion cycle.” All are necessary and you can’t have one without the other. One of the ways that we can contribute to drama or cross that line is if we only do one without the others, like if we are always just reinforcing the non-negotiables, always talking about the rules, always bringing the hammer down, that’s going to lead to the kind of drama that we call “persecuting,” where we’re just attacking, blaming all the time, trying to use fear and intimidation to get what we want.

Nate Regier:

On the other hand, though, maybe we’re just always nice. We’re always like, “I care about you. I’m sure things are going to get better. I’m going to give you a break this time,” and we’re so kind that we become what’s called the “victim” in drama, that we’re actually compromising our own boundaries and the standards of our company and our teams just to be nice. That, again, doesn’t help anybody, but it’s another kind of drama.

Nate Regier:

Or we might cross the line and start giving what I call “nonconsensual helping,” which is another fancy word for giving advice that nobody asked for. Nobody asked you for help. Be a resource, but don’t rescue them.

How Do You Help Leaders Who Lack Compassion?

Karin Hurt:

Yeah. Oh, that’s fantastic. Michelle is asking, “Do you have any advice on how to work with leaders who don’t seem to practice holding space for compassion?” I had a leader we were working with one time. He says, “I’m just missing that gene.” Yeah, so how do you coach someone like that?

Nate Regier:

Yep, yep. Thank you. We’re very explicit about how do you coach for compassionate accountability. It starts with, “I have to be the model. I have to be the one practicing compassionate accountability in every interaction.” When I do that, my behavior is providing people bridges to join me in what we call the “compassion cycle” and save face while they’re doing it. It’s like when I practice those kinds of conversations, between the lines, what I’m saying is “Here are the rules of the game. Here’s how it’s going to be when we interact. I’m going to treat you as valuable, I’m going to treat you as capable, and I’m going to treat you as responsible, and I’m not going to vary from those things.” What we find is, as I continue to have these conversations, people will eventually join me and start participating in this new game with new rules. I don’t have to teach them about it. I don’t even have to tell them what I’m doing, I just have to be compassionate, and that gives them another way to play the game and another way to engage with me.

Karin Hurt:

What If your Boss is the Jerk?

Hmm. What if it’s your boss? What if you’re working for a non-compassionate boss?

Nate Regier:

Well, here’s the other thing, and what a great time to reinforce this, we can’t control anybody except ourselves. All we can do is practice these principles ourselves. We coach a lot of leaders to lead up and lead their bosses with compassionate accountability and it works. I coached a lady who had felt like she was being underpaid for years and she felt intimidated by her boss like he wouldn’t appreciate it, didn’t care, and we coached her to use this formula that we use for compassionate accountability. She went and talked to him. He doubled her pay after that conversation.

Karin Hurt:

Wow. Wow.

Nate Regier:

She chose to conduct herself differently. You know what Einstein said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” and so it starts with us.

Karin Hurt:

Yeah, I think that is so important. We teach people how to treat us, right, and how you’re showing up in every interaction.

Nate Regier:

Yep.

How Do I Create a More Compassionate Culture?

Karin Hurt:

You talk a lot about culture and how people rub off on one another and that also really can be a really negative thing. If you have someone who is very aggressive and not compassionate, then people see that and then they are acting in those same ways. What do you do from there? Because I know you do a lot of work about culture. How do you shift a culture?

Nate Regier:

Yeah. Thank you. That is a great question because ultimately culture, Seth Godin said it best. He said, “Culture is people …” What was it? People around you will do things like this, right?

Karin Hurt:

People around you … It’s my favorite.

Nate Regier:

Yeah. I think David reminded me of that the other day. Another way to think of culture is that culture is the sum of every interaction between the people. That’s all it is. How do we start to deal with those interactions? We realize that compassion can feel really esoteric, ethereal, kind of like how do you actually get your hands on it? We need to make it operational, so the first thing we’ve done is identified what we call the “compassion mindset.” What are the three switches we have to turn on inside to be able to start practicing this stuff?

Nate Regier:

Then we teach the three skills of compassion: openness, resourcefulness, and persistence. Each one is critical component and each one has three strategies that are behavioral, they’re observable, and we know when to use them. Then we put it all together in what we call the “formula for compassionate conflict,” which is what we call “Open, Resourceful, Persistent, Open; ORPO.” We teach people how to do that. It’s what I role modeled earlier in the conversation with my peer. The mindset, the skillset, and then the formula. Once we have those things on board, anybody can learn them and anybody can apply them in any situation where there’s a potential conflict.

Karin Hurt:

Wow, interesting. Let’s talk a little bit more about each one of those. Behaviorally, I’m all about practical. Behaviorally, what does openness look like if you were trying to teach me to be more open?

Nate Regier:

Yep. Openness, at its core, is about creating a safe emotional space or emotional transparency. This is not about just what I have in my head, it’s about showing you my heart. There are three strategies. One is disclosure, where we simply share how we’re feeling with people. Another one is validation, where we show people that their feelings matter and that we’ll hold them with respect. Then the third strategy is empathy, which I mentioned before, and that’s the strategy of saying “You’re not alone. We have felt the same thing, and so your feelings are not alone, they’re not out …” How often do people feel like “I’m the only one going through this” or …? The leader I talked to the other day said, “I don’t know who I can talk to because I don’t think anybody feels what I feel,” and so I can say, “Wow, I remember what that was like when I got promoted. I’m with you.” That’s openness. Three strategies. Very important in creating a place where people feel safe enough to talk about what matters most and I know that’s a big deal for you as well.

Karin Hurt:

Yeah, absolutely. Okay, and then resourcefulness, because a lot of that is you talk a lot about not solving problems for people and that is actually disempowering.

Nate Regier:

Yes.

Karin Hurt:

I imagine resourcefulness has something to do with that?

Nate Regier:

Well, resourcefulness comes next. Openness is where we get out how we’re doing. Then we go to resourcefulness and then we say, “Okay, so how are we going to go about this? How are we going to understand what’s happening?” Resourcefulness truly is about problem-solving, but it’s about doing it in a way that increases capability, and so we’re exchanging information, we’re building on our strengths, we’re leveraging successes from the past or successes that other people have had that we can learn from, and so these are all strategies to build capability. Sometimes leaders ask me, “Well, how do I know if I’m being resourceful with my people?” and I ask them, “There’s just one question. This question is, ask the people you work with this one thing: After an interaction with me, do you feel more or less capable than you did before?”

Karin Hurt:

Oh, that is such a good question.

Nate Regier:

If the answer is yes, you’re doing the right thing. If the answer is no, you’re probably rescuing them instead of being resourceful, so we teach very specific strategies on how to be curious, how to ask good questions, how to leverage people’s strengths, how to help your people become more capable and be a catalyst for growth rather than being the one that’s solving all the problems. That then leads us to the next one.

Karin Hurt:

Yeah.

Nate Regier:

You were going to ask a question. What were you …?

Karin Hurt:

No, just I love it so much, I want to make sure we stop there because that is such a powerful question. If every leader went out today and asked that question, “After a conversation with me, do you feel more or less capable?” because if there are bullying behaviors, if there is fear and intimidation, people are not going to feel more capable, they’re going to lose confidence. One of the most important things we do as leaders is to build confidence and build people’s belief that they are capable as well as building their capabilities, so I love that one so very much. Okay, let’s go to the third.

Nate Regier:

Yeah, persistence. Well, I do want to give a shoutout to Courageous Cultures because your book is packed full of what it means to create a curious place, and so anybody who’s working with us or working with our model and wants to develop resourcefulness, just go read your book because it is an incredible place, incredible, chock full of stuff. Okay, so now we understand …

Karin Hurt:

No, wait, I’m going to interrupt you, first of all, to say thank you, but also because we have another question. Khaled is definitely-

Nate Regier:

… Oh, yes.

Karin Hurt:

… He’s somebody I’d met at a Project Management Institute conference. He was in one of our sessions. Thank you for always being on Asking for a Friend. He’s asking a great question here: “Is resourcefulness equivalent to coaching or is it a different thing? And if so, how is that different?”

Nate Regier:

Great question. Resourcefulness is to coaching what empathy is to compassion. Resourcefulness is one of the skills that we would coach a leader in, but it is only one of three of the skills of compassion. We provide a coaching strategy with how does a mentor or a coach invite someone to continue to move around the compassion cycle from openness to resourcefulness to persistence back to open. There are key decisions a person needs to make at each juncture and we teach coaches how to recognize when it’s time for that decision and how to invite and facilitate that so that people continue to step up to higher levels of compassion and higher levels of accountability over time.

Karin Hurt:

Okay, good. We actually have another question, so I’m going to just riff on these questions and then we’ll let you close with your final element here. In Conflict Without Casualties, you stated that there are only three roles, the persecutor, the victim, and the rescuer, and drama is all about negative attention behavior,” so you have someone who has read your book carefully here.

Nate Regier:

Wow. Great question.

Karin Hurt:

How would you respond to this?

Nate Regier:

Yeah, I would say that drama is always about real issues, but the way we’re tackling those issues is we are seeking to feel justified about our negative behavior and we’re creating an adversarial relationship around the issue. The issue is real, but the way we’re handling that energy of conflict is destructive, distracting, and leads nowhere but away from our best-laid goals.

Karin Hurt:

Hmm, so when you talk about reducing the drama, I think for me, in your book, it really kept coming back to, “Are we struggling together or are we struggling against?” It was really interesting because I was in the middle of some conflict as I was listening to your book and I was walking and I was thinking about, “Huh. How do we shift this to be struggling together? Because we all want the same thing.” At the end of the day, what the conflict I was involved in, we really did want the same thing, but the tension was there. It was weird.

Nate Regier:

Well, and that leads to the third skill of persistence, which is now we’ve understood the situation, we understand options, we have choices to make. Persistence is about saying, “Okay, let’s follow-through. What does really matter most? What is this about? Is this about quality? Is it about respect is about boundaries? Is it about a relationship that we both care deeply about? Let’s get clear about that so we can make some new commitments to each other about where we go from here.” That’s hard work.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, that’s beautiful. I love that so much. Okay, do we have any last questions from our listeners on Asking for a Friend? I’ll do one last call for questions. As I’m doing that, Nate, what have we not talked about that you think is so important for people? I know, a lot, but that are so important for people, particularly right now?

Nate Regier:

I think we, I just want to reinforce, again, that compassion is a way of being with people that preserves dignity. It builds capability and it, in crystal clear ways, reinforces responsibility in every interaction, so there’s never a wrong place to practice compassion or a wrong time. Now, we’re going into the holidays. Karin, you and I are really lucky that we have families that we love and want to be around and get along. That’s a luxury that maybe some families don’t enjoy, or maybe some people are alone now during the holidays, or maybe they’re just getting a barrage of social media on Facebook because they posted something and everybody is hating on them, or maybe they’re really feeling the drain and distress of this extended pandemic, and so I think compassion can be practiced on ourselves where we each day try to reinforce, “How am I valuable? How am I capable and how am I responsible for me every day?” That way, we can be that anchor in the storm and keep that centered focus when everything seems to be going crazy around us.

Karin Hurt:

Oh, wow. I want to make sure we get that. How am I valuable, how am I capable, and how am I responsible for me?

Nate Regier:

Responsible, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Karin Hurt:

Wow. Just think about that, such an affirmation. If you really think about that, especially when you’re stressed and regrounding yourself in that, “Hey, I actually have a lot to contribute here.” I love that. We got a “super,” there. Great. Okay, well, tell us a little bit about where people can find more about you. I know you all want to connect with him on LinkedIn. What could you share?

Nate Regier:

Well, LinkedIn seems to be working really well these days for connecting, so you can find me on LinkedIn, our company’s website is next-element.com, and you can purchase my books anywhere books are sold. There’s Conflict Without Casualties, we’ve talked about today, and my newest book, Seeing People Through, is all about personality diversity and leadership and so both of those are great places, but if you just look up my name, I love to get connected. I’m just looking forward to hearing from you.

Join us on Future Asking For a Friend!

We’d love to have you join us for Asking For a Friend on Fridays at 11:30 EST on my LinkedIn Feed. If we’re not connected just send me a request!

And if you like interviews like this, you won’t want to miss our most popular Asking For a Friend LIVE interview of the year, on creating connection and celebration in remote teams—including getting better at remote small talk (with Debra Fine and Scott Friedman).

Debra Fine and Scott Friedman

How to Get Better at Remote Small Talk

Small talk is challenging for many leaders, but it can be even more challenging when leading a remote team. In this episode of Asking For a Friend, I talk with small talk experts Debra Fine and Scott Friedman about practical ways to approach this fine art.

“Yeah, I don’t do small talk.”

“My team understands, I’m cool with THEIR chit chat in-between meetings, but I don’t really have time for that stuff. I’m all business. That’s why I’m so productive.”

“I get that small talk is important, but I just hate it’s so uncomfortable. I never know what to say.”

“I love hearing about what’s going on with my team personally, but I don’t want to waste their time talking about my personal life, so I keep that to myself.”

These are all phrases we’ve heard from managers (and executives) recently. And yet, what we hear from their teams is quite a different story. People are yearning for human connection, with one another and their manager.

The truth is small talk is no small matter.

5 Practical Ways to Up Your Remote Small Talk Game

In our Asking for a Friend Live series this week, Karin interviewed connection experts Scott Friedman and Debra Fine about building connection and celebration—and of course, the importance of small talk in the mix.

A few tips (watch the video below for more):

1. Use prompts to invite a deeper conversation.

Debra suggests that instead of asking “How are you?” Use the phrase, “Catch me up.”

For example, don’t just ask, “How’s your kid?” Because of course, you’ll hear the most likely answer, “Oh, he’s fine.”

But if you say, “Catch me up about your son, Sebastian. What’s he’s been up to since we last spoke?” just like that, you are having a meaningful conversation that helps your co-worker feel seen and cared for.

2. Make small talk a task.

If you struggle with small talk, make small talk a task.

For example, you could make a calendar appointment to reach out to two people you work with each day, just to check-in. Or, if you’re leading a meeting, make a deliberate plan to start the meeting with space for small talk and a check-in prompt or two.  Then, just like every other task, once you’ve completed it you can check it off. (P.S.  no one needs to know you think of it as a task. They’ll just love the time for connection.)

3. Book-end each meeting with time for small talk.

Small talk doesn’t have to take a lot of time. As you head into each remote meeting, think about having small talk frame your meeting like bookends. Begin and end every meeting with time to connect for five minutes at a human level.

4. Create opportunities for asynchronous small talk.

One of the I.D.E.A.s that came out of a recent Courageous Cultures live-online program was to build a series of Slack channels where employees could engage with one another as they had time around topics they cared about (e.g. recipes, funny pet pics/stories, fitness challenges).

5. Make small talk a ritual.

Scott talks about the power of “Wow Friday,” where people get a moment to share their concerns and celebrations.

Wine: Get a beverage of choice and give people a chance to share what’s on their hearts.

Wow: Celebrate something good, and be able to celebrate.

More here…

Asking For a Friend Live With Scott Friedman and Debra Fine

Join us on Friday’s For Asking For a Friend

Join Karin every Friday at 11:30 EST for her Asking For a Friend Video Series where she shares practical tools and techniques including interviews with well-known authors and business leaders from around the world.

Your turn.

What are your best tips for small talk on remote teams?

See Also:

Fast Company- How to Replace Small Talk When Working Remotely

For more remote team tips and techniques visit our remote team resource center.

My boss treats me like a kid

How Do I Stop My Boss From Treating Me Like a Kid?

Have you ever seen this dynamic? A manager has known “a kid” on his team forever. He loves him and really wants what’s best for him And still, yet, he can’t stop treating him like a kid?

If you ask “the kid,” (who also loves and respects said manager), is also very frustrated that he’s being treated like a kid.

“I know I’ve grown. How do I convince him?”

We call this the “Tommy syndrome.” Tom is ready for what’s next, but his well-meaning manager can’t stop thinking about him as Tommy.

Dear Karin and David,

I’ve grown so much as a leader. I’ve gone back to school. Worked hard as a volunteer leader in my professional associations. My team’s results are solid. But my boss doesn’t give me a chance. I’m her go-to guy to get stuff done, but when it comes to presenting to senior leaders, or for stretch assignments, she seems to give those opportunities to the folks she’s hired in the last few years. I know I have the deeper personal relationship, and I value all I’ve learned from her. But honestly, I wonder if I should start looking outside for a fresh start.

Signed,

A Grown-Up #AskingForAFriend

 

How Do I Stop My Boss From Treating Me Like a Kid?

1. Don’t act like a kid

This may seem like the most obvious answer, but we often find that this familiarity goes both ways. Don’t over-disclose your frustrations, your insecurities, or ask for extra guidance or concessions. Act the part of the role you want.

2. Approach one-on-ones as organized as if you’re in a new job

Our free MIT huddle planner can help you organize your thoughts and prepare for your discussions. Treat every one-on-one as if it were an interview for the next role. Bring that level of professionalism and preparation.

3. Ditch the Diaper Drama and clearly state your goals

Be straightforward with your manager and tell her that you would like to be considered for the role that interests you. Ask her what skills and competencies you need to demonstrate to be qualified for consideration. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking. David’s first middle-level management promotion came when he actively said, “I want to do that.” The organization had been looking externally until he expressed interest.

4. Get real about expectations

What does success really look like for your current role and at the next level? Be sure you’re crystal clear about your manager’s expectations. Here’s another approach that can help. Often, your manager isn’t sharing where you’re not meeting expectations because they see you as a known quantity and don’t want to jeopardize the relationship. Be clear that you want to exceed the requirements of your current role and get the feedback you need to know where you’re not meeting the mark.

5. Play bigger

To be seen as a thought-partner, you’ve got to act like one. Start thinking and speaking strategically. What are the business concerns that keep your boss’s boss up at night? What goals must they achieve to be successful? In interactions with your boss and her colleagues, start speaking in terms of these initiatives and concerns.

6. When you’re overlooked, have an honest conversation

Once you’ve done all of the above for several months, if you’re not considered for the next opportunity, it’s time for another conversation. You might say something like, “It seems like you don’t consider me as qualified for these roles. Do I have that right?” Pause and let them respond. See what additional information you uncover. If it’s not obvious, ask again what skills, behaviors, and achievements you need to demonstrate to be considered.

7. Change your context

Some people will always have a difficult time seeing you differently than the person you were when they first met you. If you try all of these tactics and you’re still not being seen the way you’d like, check with a mentor or some other colleagues to verify that it’s not something you’re failing to do. If you’re doing everything you can and nothing changes, you may have to change your context where your new professionalism and strategic thinking are seen without the baggage of history.

Your turn. What advice would you give A Grown-Up so their boss stops treating them like a kid?

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Have a leadership or management question? Send it here and we’ll do our best to share our perspective.  You might also enjoy our Fast Company article on 10 Excuses that Silently Damage Manager’s Careers