How and When to be a Diplomatic Leader in Order to Foster Collaboration

How and When to be a Diplomatic Leader in Order to Foster Collaboration

How and When to be a Diplomatic Leader in Order to Foster Collaboration

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | How and When to be a Diplomatic Leader in Order to Foster Collaboration

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | August 26, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is an international business strategy and growth consultant, best-selling author and speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.

The consummate leader needs to be both a diplomat and a truth-teller, and those things don’t always line up perfectly.

It is the role of the leader to guide their company and often, that involves smoothing the waters and sometimes delivering bad news.

The skills of the diplomat are those of sensitivity toward the stakeholders and finding a navigable path when things get bent out of shape. The diplomat needs to balance often disparate needs to find a resolution.

The diplomat is also the integrator who attempts to get everyone playing together in the sandbox and help engender cooperation and collaboration.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | The Affinity Formula | 5 Steps to Re-Imagine Your Business Post COVID-19

As much as dedicated and high performing teams cite diplomacy as a preferred behavior for their leaders, the diplomatic approach comes with some challenges. As I suggested earlier, it can cause the leader to hold back on delivering truth bombs when candor may potentially lead to a better ultimate outcome.  These compromises can blur the lines at times.

The other downside of the diplomatic style is that oftentimes, taking a more diplomatic route can increase time to resolution. This is usually the case because the diplomatic leader  needs to work with all stakeholders. Taking the time to reach out to, and often revisit, all the players doesn’t usually happen quickly, but can help amplify Affinity.

I personally think the diplomatic style can be incredibly important in organizations seeking integration and collaboration. However, it’s not always the best style in start-ups, early-stage, and fast-moving organizations.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | How and When to be a Diplomatic Leader in Order to Foster Collaboration | Puzzle

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The Adizes Model

Ichak Adizes places great importance on the integrator, or diplomat, and sees them as critical to a company’s drive to prime (optimal performance).

Adizes developed a model of the life-cycle of a business and profiles the different styles of leadership needed at each phase of a company’s evolution.

Adizes argues that there are four basic roles that are needed in all organizations, in varying degrees, at various points in a company’s evolution: Producer (P), Administrator (A), Entrepreneur (E), and Integrator (I).

People don’t fit exactly into one of these, but usually are a mixture of them:

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Adizes’ 4 Basic Roles

THE PRODUCER

Organizations exist to produce results. The results being produced may vary depending on the organization, but they all exist in order to satisfy customer needs. The Producer is typically very delivery focused. They work long hours to ‘do it now’ and tend to believe that hard work solves everything.

THE ADMINISTRATOR

While the Producer focuses on what to do, the administrator focuses on how things should be done. The administrator undertakes activities that are directed at getting things organized, planned, scheduled, systematized, and generally under control by capturing the learning curve about how to do things right in processes, procedures, and systems.

THE ENTREPRENEUR

Entrepreneurs embrace change and inspire those around them. They are focused on creating new opportunities or responding to threats. Entrepreneurs are more willing to believe in visions and take significant risks, whilst using story-telling and other techniques to bring others along with them.

THE INTEGRATOR

Integrators are reliable, trustworthy, warm, and caring. The Integrator role focuses on the development of teams who can make the organization efficient over the long term. Integrator Managers often develop persistent cultures of mutual trust and mutual respect.

Source: adizes.com

The model below illustrates the varied emphasis needed from these roles as the company matures and ages.

To me, the diplomat is the Integrator.

As you can see in the model illustrated below, the ‘I’ comes into their own, focusing on cooperation and collaboration of the team as the company matures and the fast-paced chaos of the early stages disappears into the rearview mirror.

I have served as the Integrator in many roles, helping at times manage interpersonal, interdepartmental, supplier and customer relationships. All of these roles require diplomatic skills.

An integrator can be thought of as a Chief of Staff. They aim to foster improved communications up and down the organization and create Affinity. Much like a diplomat they need to be aware and responsive to the needs, views, motivations and conflicts at play.

The integrator considers all the stakeholders and tries to align interests and concerns.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | How and When to be a Diplomatic Leader in Order to Foster Collaboration | Adizes Corporate Lifecycle

The integrator aims for collaboration, cohesiveness and unification.

It is also the job of the integrator to help build teams, and drive toward the shared vision and intrinsic purpose.

And the integrator is uniquely aware of the interpersonal and group interactions and dynamics and works to build the organic functionality of the organization.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | How and When to be a Diplomatic Leader in Order to Foster Collaboration | Integrator

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How to Transcend Troubling Times

How to Transcend Troubling Times

How to Transcend Troubling Times

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Transcending Troubling Times

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | August 18, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is a business growth consultant, executive coach, author and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.

According to Business Insider, unemployment filings hit 55 million over the past 20 weeks.

Layoffs, furloughs, freezes on hiring and downsizing are all reaching epidemic proportions. Usually, downsizing and consolidations are associated with declining financial performance for the companies going through these transitions, but not necessarily.

According to Kim Cameron, a researcher at the University of Michigan, companies that were downsizing AND characterized by virtuous practices – for example, forgiveness, compassion, integrity, trust, optimism, kindness – tended to avoid the declining performance usually associated with major consolidation.
In a study across 16 industries, all of which had cut staff, Cameron’s research demonstrated that organizations scoring higher in virtuousness were significantly more profitable, and also achieved significantly higher performance in returns to shareholders, productivity, and customer satisfaction*. 
Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Transcending Troubling Times | Core Values

In these unprecedented times, fear pervades every segment of the business community.  Every executive and business owner I work with has very real fears for their companies and their people.

When fear surrounds us as it does today, it is easy to let it distort our priorities and influence our better judgement.

As we work through strategies to pivot, re-engineer or sometimes consolidate, it remains critical to keep the moral fiber of the company intact and act with integrity and transparency.

In my book, “The Affinity Principle, I describe how important being present and communicating empathetically is when stress levels are peaking.

Our Tough Time

On the heels of the Global Economic Crisis in 2008, my wife and I purchased a company that turned out to be financially misrepresented (a nice way to say that the books were cooked. Actually, they were burned to a crisp!). With massive losses suddenly appearing on the balance sheet, we had to pivot and consolidate immediately. This involved closing one location, renegotiating with landlords,  consolidating staffing, and shifting our focus from thriving to surviving.

Over the course of 18 months, we turned that company around and we credit that turnaround to maintaining our integrity, transparency, and communicating with all the stakeholders constantly. We had completely open book conversations with our landlords and vendors, we shared everything with our team, we offered up trust, compassion and optimism in liberal doses. 

And in that whole turbulent time, no team member missed a paycheck, no vendor was gipped, and the landlords were ultimately made whole. 

We look back on that time with incredulity and realize that maintaining those values which we went into the business with was actually our greatest achievement. 

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | Coach | The Affinity Principle | Blog | Transcending Troubling Times | Core Values | Our Tough Time

So, if you’re facing tough decisions or seemingly insurmountable challenges from this current global crisis, I encourage you to hold true to those values that have made you who you are today. Step back from the fray and look on with compassion, empathy and fortitude. By elevating your communications and maintaining your optimism, you can help guide your organization out of these turbulent times.

*  Virtuousness and Performance: A Productive Partnership, Prof. Kim Cameron – Ross School of Business

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26 Non-Negotiables, Opportunities & Tips for Surviving and Thriving During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

26 Non-Negotiables, Opportunities & Tips for Surviving and Thriving During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

26 Non-Negotiables, Opportunities & Tips for Surviving and Thriving During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | April 28, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is an international business growth consultant, executive coach, author and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business and the economy is unprecedented. 

Businesses negatively affected by COVID-19 are faltering. Even the most robust companies will need to fight their way back to their pre-pandemic best, and marginal ones will likely not re-emerge from the crisis.

Companies positively affected by COVID-19 also need to chart new courses. That might mean establishing new supply chains, recruiting additional talent, or retooling their business to cope with massive spikes in sales and activity.

As businesses recalibrate, strategize, and pivot, one thing remains clear: these are unchartered waters for everyone.

There are some non-negotiables and common denominators across industries and sectors, but for the most part this is a unique set of circumstances that demand novel solutions and strategies. 

I have detailed some non-negotiables, opportunities, and tips below:

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NON-NEGOTIABLES

1. Take all necessary measures to protect your team members and customers.

This is ‘Job 1’. This includes developing and maintaining smart, thoughtful communications with your team, customers, community, and stakeholders. Keeping these essential partners in your business well informed and demonstrating empathy for their particular circumstances is paramount. We are all embroiled in this mess and retaining key team members and as many of your customers as possible is critical to coming out of this crisis relatively intact. These communications should always be empathetic and include proactive steps you’re taking to protect them specifically. Check out the Virtual Standup concept to really stay in touch with your team on a regular basis.

2. Abide by all local, regional and federal guidelines as applicable.

This seems passé, but these guidelines are a moving target, and staying abreast of updates is critical.

3. Know what support and aid packages are available to you and your business and take full advantage of any applicable assistance.

This will continue to evolve as stimulus efforts continue to unfold, but make sure your best person is on this. It could be the difference between getting through this mess or being more debris in its wake.

4. Be flexible.

You will need to show empathy and flexibility for your team, vendors, partners, and collaborators. Equally, you will need flexibility in return from lenders, landlords, vendors, and your team. Don’t be afraid to ask for leniency or moratoriums on rent, repayments, or other normally non-negotiable expenses.

5. Adjust your strategic plan.

What you had documented in January is almost definitely completely obsolete. I typically recommend a strategic plan doesn’t stretch (in detail) past 90 days. That might be reduced to 30 days, or less, at present. Here are 13 More Tips and thoughts on survival strategies in these uncertain times. 

6. Cut any non-essential spending if you haven’t already.

A logical end to this crisis is yet to be determined and therefore we should plan for the worst and hope for the best. For many companies, the definition of non-essential will vary, but if the intended spend won’t fortify your position with your team, your customers, or the market, really question whether it’s necessary.

7. Help your sales team recalibrate how they do business.

This is a key area I’ve been working on with my clients. Giving sales teams the tools and support to modify how they maintain and even build their business is critical. This can range from simple tips on the backdrop and dress code for virtual calls all the way through to specific training on virtual platforms and tools. Investing in online and remote tools, training, and systems for your team as a whole is critical. These might include tools like GoToMeeting, Zoom, Skype, Slack, Asana, Trello, Basecamp, Google Suite, etc.

8. Amplify your focus and communication on hygiene and cleanliness. 

A simple example would be our family’s  AirBNB. We’re informing potential guests of our cleaning regimes, e.g. we space three days between guests, sterilize all bedding and towels, clean all surfaces and contact points with Clorox, etc. These types of assurances can address concerns and position you for opportunities that still exist in your market.

9. Ensure you have amended your standard operating procedures for the current circumstances. 

This may mean implementing new checks and balances, e.g. systems of time tracking or activity management. If your company and team members don’t normally function in a remote environment, you’ll need guidelines and tools to assist all parties to stay on track.

10. Restructure your workforce.

Much of this may have already happened and can range from retrenchments to recruiting. On the retrenchment side, I encourage you to keep in close contact with those key team members you’ve had to release. Keep them updated to the best of your ability so they are most likely to return when things normalize and you need them. If you’re recruiting, don’t hire out of desperation. Easy to say and hard to do. Maybe your hiring cycle needs to shorten, but the usual checks and balances should remain. A poor hire can hurt you just as much now as ever.

OPPORTUNITIES

1. Help your team members stay healthy and active by encouraging them to exercise at home and take care of themselves. 

Hosting some team ‘get-togethers’ so they stay connected can be fun and rewarding, too. A nice touch one of my clients did was to send every team member a bottle of wine and he invited everyone to join (with their families) in an online Company Happy Hour to raise a glass. Check out some ideas of things for you and your team members to do during the lockdown in this blog post.

2. Reinforce your relationship with your customers through thoughtful communications, offers, free services, and other bonuses.

A client of mine whose business premises are closed at present has been doing a ‘Daily Update’ for their members with recipes, how to stay sane during the lockdown tips, and health tips and ideas. This is keeping them connected to their customers and adds value to the relationship.

3. Find a digital version of what you do.

While e-commerce was pervasive before the crisis, it has become a non-negotiable since. For example, many health clubs are providing online classes now, some social clubs are having regular online Happy Hours, and a nitro coffee company I work with has started up nitro coffee bean subscriptions. Get creative with your online opportunity!

4. Get to marketing your business while the competition hunkers down or regroups.

There may be opportunities to scoop up customers who have become disconnected from their usual sources of supply. However, ensure any campaign you do conduct is not seen as opportunistic. It needs to be appropriately empathetic and acknowledge the current situation we all face. Being tone-deaf to people’s predicaments can create the opposite effect to what you’re seeking. If you need help with your messaging, consult a marketing agency.

5. Consider pivoting into a sector that may not be in your usual line of business. 

One of my printing clients used their promotions business to procure masks and protective wear and shore up the slowdown in their printing business. Another one of my clients is a social club and in order to keep their kitchen team on the payroll, they provided their members with a food credit and started providing curbside pickup for take-out.

6. Let your customers and community know the things you are doing to help in these troubling times. 

Many companies are providing free services, making donations, and offering credits or such, to maintain and grow goodwill.

7. This is an incredible time to reconnect with former customers and maybe win them back. 

Even if you can’t get their business now, it may be possible when this crisis subsides.

8. Get that project done that you’ve been thinking about.

One of my clients took advantage of the downturn to move their warehouse. Another is taking this opportunity to repaint their entire facility. Both of these things would have been really difficult under normal circumstances. 

9. Engage with your customers (and former customers) to get feedback and gain perspective.

Many of your customers have more availability than ever and you can do some great market research and develop relationships in the downtime. 

TIPS

1. Maintain positive momentum.

It is easy to let inertia wane and succumb to all the negative press around the economic outlook for businesses. Stay positive and keep actively pursuing opportunities as they emerge. My consulting business slowed enormously at the onset of the pandemic, so I focused on writing and producing content to keep momentum up. I completed my book, “The Affinity Principle,” and it went off to the printers during the lull. This would not have been possible if I had a full book of business.

2. Focus your energy on the most rewarding activities.

It’s easy to get distracted in times like these, but the rewards will come when we channel our energy to those things that bring the greatest returns. Opportunities will arise and decisiveness is critical as things are moving fast. Retention of customers and of your team is likely the best use of available resources at present, but other opportunities will likely present themselves.

3. Don’t be afraid to try some things that you might not normally consider.

The current climate may be a great petri dish for ‘trial balloons’ on products or projects. Some companies are crowdsourcing for funding, others are giving their products away, or offering discounts they would not normally consider. It is important not to do these things out of desperation, but out of the desire to traverse this rocky landscape.

4. It is also a great time to explore those businesses that are booming and see if you can appropriately leverage their growing sales into momentum for you and your company. 

Here’s a list of business sectors that are thriving at present.

5. Don’t be afraid to project out beyond the pandemic.

Start laying the foundations for post-pandemic success. This can help your team look past the present predicament and set the table for your resurgence.

6. Think about doing some team building events online.

There are some fun online games and Virtual Escape Rooms that could offer some respite to your team in these troubling times. Build your own quiz around your business and team on Kahoot and play it with your team.

7. Share memories with your team and customers.

This is a great time to reflect, and your team and customers will love it. Post pictures, tell stories, have some fun with things that happened before the lockdown, and stay in people’s positive consciousness.

It’s easy for F.E.A.R. to sneak into your thoughts and influence your actions and responses to this crisis. 

Truth is, some companies will not come out of this crisis intact. 

If you can focus your will and direct your efforts toward the inevitable opportunities that come out of a crisis like this, you stand a very good chance of rising above your competition. 

Most importantly, remember ‘Job 1’ and many of the other elements will fall into place as the new order of business unfolds.

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Change Management During Uncertain Times

Change Management During Uncertain Times

Change Management During Uncertain Times

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | April 17, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is a business growth consultant, executive coach, author and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.

I first experienced the joy of sailing as a cadet at the Royal Australian Naval College. Harnessing the power of the wind was both challenging and exhilarating. Since those days of sailing Bosun’s Dinghies around Jervis Bay, I’ve sailed everything from windsurfers and kiteboards all the way up to a 48-foot catamaran on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. 

The one indelible constant in sailing is the ever-changing conditions that demand continuous course corrections and adjustments to the sails and rigging. The wind constantly shifts direction or speed, demanding ongoing course corrections. Currents and tides under the boat influence its path and again demand regular adjustments from the skipper.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Author | Speaker | The Affinity Principle | Change Management Appraisal

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Constant Change & Mindful Communication

This volatility very much reminds me of the current state of the world. As information regardig COVID streams in from hundreds of countries across the globe, the ever changing trajectory, path and profile of this crisis demand constant adjustments to our course.

So how do we approach the ebb and flow of information and the constantly shifting parameters we’re faced with today?

As with the sailing analogy, this is an inexact process.

It requires trial and error and the ability to adjust course or expectations constantly. It may even require many companies to pivot in directions that they would have never contemplated. 

Managing change at this rate is incredibly stressful and difficult. More than ever, it demands great communications between your team, customers, the community and stakeholders.

In times of turmoil developing and maintaining regular, relevant and rhythmic communications with your communities will bring many benefits:

1. Routine and rhythm will help establish a sense of trust with your constituencies. 

2. These communication rhythms will bring awareness around issues and will help develop solutions and facilitate change.

3. These rhythmic communications give you opportunities to recognize your team and simultaneously better understand the challenges that they are facing in this new world order. 

NOTE: Communications should not be limited to work and professional issues. It helps for your team and constituencies to discuss the personal and sometimes unique circumstances they’re facing.

4. Given that many of your team members may be working remotely for the first time, these regular communication opportunities may reduce a feeling of isolation and keep those team members more in touch.

5. Sharing of information and knowledge through regular conversations and briefings can also enhance relationships between teams and creating a variety of groups and forums will help solidify your team and company in these turbulent times.

Constant Change & Clarity

Beyond collaborative communications are the strategic elements of navigating these treacherous waters. Much like Jack Sparrow on “Pirates of the Caribbean,” you need a compass that points toward that which you desire to accomplish.

My point is that you really need to have clarity about where you’re headed. And I don’t mean those rocks that appear all around you! I mean what is the ultimate destination you seek when this crisis resolves itself? 

Regaining clarity around your ultimate destination beyond this crisis will inform the course corrections you need to make now. As information comes to hand and options appear and disappear, you will need to maintain clarity around your final destination in order to navigate the many challenges that stand between where you are today and where you want to be at the end of this crisis.

Constant Change & Strategy Adjustments

In order to redefine the goal/s for your company in the face of these turbulent times, I recommend engaging your stakeholders in the conversation. It also makes sense to engage thought leaders in this dialogue. By bringing in talented third parties that have helped companies navigate crises and re-births, you improve your chance of weathering this storm.

There will be a level of attrition in business that occurs as a function of this pandemic. There will also be opportunities that are inevitably a by-product of chaos. If you beef up the depth and rhythm of your communications and develop and maintain clarity around what you want to achieve at the end of this mess, you stand a much higher likelihood of coming out the other end intact.

I wish you clear skies and an open ocean . . . 

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Overcoming F.E.A.R. During COVID Uncertainty

Overcoming F.E.A.R. During COVID Uncertainty

Overcoming F.E.A.R. During COVID Uncertainty

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | April 15, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is a speaker, author, and business coach. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change, and drive growth.

 

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting | Blog | Virtual Training During and Beyond the COVID PandemicThe acronym for F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. 

 

When you’re dealing with the unknown, facts are changing daily, experts are predicting very different outcomes, and the media, politicians and your own predilections are distorting the information you’re processing. This makes it really difficult to discern false evidence from real facts.

In defense of all the stakeholders in the distribution of information, no one has an incredibly clear picture of what reality is right now, and they certainly have no idea about what the outcome will be in the future.

When we’re facing a very real threat to ourselves, our families and indeed our way of life, fear can rise up pretty quickly.

On top of these very personal threats to their wellbeing, my consulting clients are faced with additional fears. Fears for their team members’ wellbeing, fear of their loss of ability to serve their customers, and fear for their businesses and livelihoods. 

These are seriously stressful times!

As I’m working with my clients in these uncertain times, one of the most important roles I fulfill is to try and sift through the fear-based information and the fact-based information.

That might seem really straight forward, but often it is not. 

Fear creeps in when things change. Change in and of itself creates fear.

Very often, the fear change generates is misplaced and never comes to fruition. But that’s easy to say, harder to determine and very hard to convey when people’s backs are against the wall.

Fear Paralysis

Recently, I was working through options with a senior manager for a company I am working with and I kept hearing his mind’s projections into the future where he was re-inventing and re-experiencing realities that did not and might never exist. He was telling me why we couldn’t shift to virtual training and why we had to hunker down and hope that this all goes away really quickly. And that the best we could hope for is that this would someday seem like a bad dream.

He was completely paralyzed by fear and couldn’t see his way through it. As a result, he shut down and refused to think creatively.

Wishing and hoping this crisis away is a lot like playing the lottery. You know it’s not likely (in fact it’s damn near impossible) but you hope anyway.

What we need to do in times like these is look at the unvarnished truth as we know it today: 

  1. This thing is not going away anytime soon
  2. Everyone’s in the same boat
  3. Hunkering down and not taking affirmative action is foolish
  4. Assuming the worst is also a fool’s errand
  5. Not preparing for the worst is even more foolish

The truth is that we need to tackle this crisis on an hour by hour, day by day, and month by month basis.

We can’t project an end to the suffering, but we can plot a course that allows for a number of potential end points and work towards those with focus and determination.

As some of those endpoints pass us by and we are still in crisis mode, we need to realign our next set of projections and focus once again.

There is no predicting the likely outcome of this spiraling mass of chaos, but as with the Chaos Theory, very small changes can have far reaching impacts.

Chaos Theory

In the Chaos Theory, initial conditions are considered extremely important. If you look at the response by countries and states across the globe, you can see that where early and affirmative action was taken, outcomes improved more quickly.

This is a great lesson: early and affirmative action

A second element of the Chaos Theory is unpredictability. One thing we know with certainty is that the ultimate outcome of this global event cannot possibly be predicted accurately. If for no other reason, the sheer magnitude of variables in a global event like this make predicting an outcome impossible.

The lesson in this is to focus on the things you can change and don’t get distracted by all the variables that are out of your control.

It is easy to get consumed by the what ifs and let the overwhelming amount of information cloud our view. Fear stalks us all in these challenging times and channeling your focus, time and energy into productive pursuits is tough.

If you’re struggling to see any light at the end of this long tunnel, I would suggest you focus on the process and not the outcome. Take action where and when you can.

And don’t get caught up in the things that remain unknown or out of your control.

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Virtual Stand-Up: A Simple Communication Tool for You and Your Team During COVID

Virtual Stand-Up: A Simple Communication Tool for You and Your Team During COVID

Virtual Stand-Up: A Simple & Effective Communication Tool for You and Your Team During COVID-19

Grant Ian GambleBy Grant Ian Gamble | April 17, 2020

Grant Ian Gamble is a business growth consultant, executive coach, author and keynote speaker. He works in a broad array of industries helping companies build teams, navigate change and drive growth.

Grant Ian Gamble Business Consulting Blog | Virtual Stand-Up: A Simple Communication Tool for Your and Your Team During COVIDMonday through Friday every week, first thing in the morning, I facilitate a Virtual Stand Up with a management team I am consulting with. This helps the department heads stay connected, even though they’re not in the same physical work environment at the moment.

This daily Virtual Stand-Up reduces miscommunication, increases camaraderie, helps keep team members focused, and ultimately provides a community for people who are getting more and more disconnected as this pandemic expands its grip on our world.

Getting your team together for a daily Virtual Stand-Up can be fun, fulfilling and emotionally fortifying.

Daily virtual huddles might seem a bit much, but can be incredibly productive when you have the right guidelines in place.

Verne Harnish has championed a huddle concept he calls the “Daily Stand-Up”. The Stand-Up model covers three basic things:

What did you do yesterday? 

What are you planning to do today? 

Do you have any unique challenges you are currently facing?

The real beauty of this model is that each participant only has 60 seconds to download those three update items. This means that if you have 10 people on your team, the meeting should take no longer than 10 minutes.

From my experience, the most productive element of this format is declaring what we’re up to today. Some team members approach the day with plans in place, but most just wing it. This format asks those team members to be more proactive and less reactive.

Because of the nature of this format, it is very efficient. It needs a facilitator to manage people’s time and keep things on track, but from my experience, after a few meetings team members pick up the protocol really well and find it incredibly valuable. 

 

» Here are some simple tips to ensure a successful Virtual Stand-Up:

  • VIDEO CONFERENCE
  • 60 SECONDS PER PERSON: 

     What did you do yesterday? 

     What are you planning to do today? 

     Do you have any unique challenges you are currently facing?

1. RELEVANT TOPICS

Ensure the topics team members present are relevant to the group. If they need to inform another team member of something, or have a discussion with them one-on-one, this is not the forum. Instead, encourage them to have the conversation independently.

2. HIGHLIGHTS ONLY

When team members review what they did yesterday, they need to focus on highlights only. The same applies to their plans for today. NOTE: When reviewing yesterday on a Monday, we refer back to Friday’s events.

3. SHARING UNIQUE CHALLENGES

When reviewing any unique challenges they are facing, these should be things that are impeding progress or causing them undue angst. This does not include things that apply to everyone like the weather, or this pandemic. An example would be, “My internet is down at home.” This is good for others to know and obviously is a relevant issue given the current lockdowns.

4. USE A TIMER

Initially, use a timer. This won’t be necessary for the long term, but people will initially give more detail than needed and when the buzzer goes off it is a good reminder to keep it short.

5. ENCOURAGE OFFLINE CONVERSATIONS

If a team member goes off on a tangent or a conversation starts up between two people, the facilitator needs to interject and suggest they take the conversation offline after the call. They can even stay on the call after everyone else drops off, or schedule a separate call or meeting.

6. ALWAYS START ON TIME

Always start the meeting on time. Team members will learn that this is a short, sharp and functional opportunity to stay connected and dialing in on time is expected.

7. USE A RELIABLE VIDEO CONFERENCING TOOL

Use a reliable conferencing tool. I usually use Google Hangouts and put the meeting on repeat so that people have it on their calendar and can dial in easily. There are lots of free conferencing tools out there, so take your pick. 

8. REDUCE BACKGROUND NOISE

Encourage team members to mute their devices when they’re not talking in order to reduce background noise.

9. VIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO!

As often as possible, I suggest doing a video call instead of a phone call. Some teams do a video call every time. This leaves less room for distractions and miscommunication as it’s much easier for people to read each other’s emotions when they can see each other.

If you limit each team member to 60 seconds and stick to this routine, you’ll quickly experience the benefits. These meetings can be critical in keeping your team on track and maintaining your work community. 

I have used this format in many scenarios, but never quite as beneficially as today.

We need each other more than ever, and having simple and productive rituals like Virtual Stand Ups will help your team stay aligned, productive and connected.

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