Effective Teams, Leadership, Strategy

What is your organization’s long term remote working strategy?

I recently provided a webinar through University of Evansville’s Center for the Advancement of Learning related to engaging remote workers. As organizations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, many are scrambling to accommodate a remote work environment for their employees. The adjustment can be particularly challenging for those organizations who have maintained a traditional office working environment. I encourage organizations to explore whether there are new opportunities for them as a result of the current remote working environment. 

Gallup has been tracking employee engagement since 2000. They categorize employees into the following groups (Harter, 4 February 2020):

  1. Engaged – “those who are highly involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace”
  2. Not engaged – “those who are psychologically unattached to their work and company and who put time, but not energy or passion, into their work”
  3. Actively disengaged – “those who have miserable work experiences and spread their unhappiness to their colleagues”

Gallup reports a record percentage of employees at the engaged level for 2019: 35% (with 52% not engaged and 13% actively disengaged). According to Harter (4 February 2020), engaged employees: 

  • “produce substantially better outcomes
  • treat customers better and attract new ones
  • are more likely to remain with their organization than those who are less engaged.
  • Engaged employees are also healthier and less likely to experience burnout.”

According to the Remote Work Study (Zapier, 13 November 2019), 

  • “95 percent of U.S. knowledge workers want to work remotely”
  • “74 percent would be willing to quit a job to do so”
  • “57 percent” say the option to work remotely is one of the perks they’d most prefer to be offered by an employer.

I was surprised to see the incredibly high interest in remote working, and I think there will be continued desire for remote working after the pandemic. 

Gallup (Hickman & Robison, 24 January 2020) has linked the highest level of engagement to those who work remotely three to four days a week (60%-<80%) and work in the office one to two days a week (41% engaged, 48% not engaged, and 11% actively disengaged). It is important to note that employees who worked remotely all of the time had lower levels of engagement (30% engaged, 54% not engaged, and 16% actively disengaged), and these engagement numbers are similar to those who do not work remotely at all (30% engaged, 55% not engaged, and 15% actively disengaged). 

Based on the desire for employees to work remotely and the high levels of engagement that can result from a hybrid remote working environment (time spent working remotely and in a traditional office), organizations have the opportunity to reimagine their future working arrangements. 

Here are some items to consider regarding remote working:

  1. Are there cost savings opportunities to reduce office space?
  2. Will a remote working environment help us improve employee engagement?
  3. Will a remote work environment help us retain and attract talent?
  4. Are our leaders equipped with the necessary skills to successfully manage remote employees?
  5. What work activities can take place remotely and what needs to take place in person?
  6. Do we need to more fully explore ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) to clearly define outcomes for employees’ work?

As many organizations are developing a plan to return to the office, I recommend strategic discussions about the future of remote working in organizations. This is a great opportunity to gather input and make decisions that could have an impact on the future success of organizations. We are skilled facilitators who have helped organizations navigate complex problem solving. If you need help in this area, please contact us

References:

Harter, J. (2020, February 4). 4 Factors Driving Record-High Employee Engagement in U.S. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/284180/factors-driving-record-high-employee-engagement.aspx

Hickman, A., & Robison, J, (24 January 2020). Is Working Remotely Effective? Gallup Research Says Yes. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/283985/working-remotely-effective-gallup-research-says-yes.aspx

Zapier Editorial Team (13 November 2019). The Remote Work Report. Retrieved from https://zapier.com/blog/remote-work-report-by-zapier/

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization develop a planning process for long term success?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.

Leadership

A leader’s infinite mindset inspires

I recently read Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game, and I find many of the concepts particularly relevant to our current situation. All individuals and organizations have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way, and the uncertainty of the situation is particularly troubling. Restrictions are gradually being lifted where I live, and that seems to create hope for many people that better times are in sight. However, there is still anxiety about the chance of a second wave and the accompanying implications on our health and economy. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In The Infinite Game, Sinek describes finite and infinite games. We are all very familiar and comfortable with finite games, because they have defined rules, players, etc. Athletic events are examples of finite games, and we know what it takes to win one. In business, quarterly or annual financial benchmarks are examples of finite games. Businesses set a goal, and we know whether we “won” or “lost” based on whether we met the metric. 

In contrast, “the primary objective is to keep playing, to perpetuate the game” in infinite games (p. 4). I think the infinite game is about knowing who we are at our individual and organizational best rather than looking for finite measures. It is a long term perspective that focuses on success now and especially in the future. Sinek writes:

“In the Infinite Game, the true value of an organization cannot be measured by the success it has achieved based on a set of arbitrary metrics over arbitrary time frames. The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their own tenure.” (p. 9)

Many organizations are losing the finite game as we speak. They are missing monthly and quarterly quotas, decreased sales, lower productivity, laying off employees, etc. It is easy to succumb to finite thinking and get discouraged. During difficult times, leaders often have a short term perspective.

During the challenges brought by the pandemic, I encourage leaders to think about the infinite game. How might we use this time to ensure our organizations are better in the long run? At some point, we know scientists will find a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19. It’s only a question of when. 

During the challenging weeks and months ahead, how are leaders building teams and employees focused on their “organization’s ability to keep succeeding?” (p. 9). This is a time when leaders can focus on improving company culture, expanding technology capabilities, developing innovative products and services, training their team, and other areas that contribute to the infinite game. While there are many things out of the control of leaders right now, leaders can focus on those areas they have influence over.

Here are some questions worth reflecting on and discussing:

  1. Is our organization focused on the finite game or the infinite game?
  2. How might we build a stronger company culture where everyone is focused on the “organization’s ability to keep succeeding?” (p. 9)?
  3. What can we do now to make our organization and people better in the long run?
  4. How might we view this time as an opportunity to act on items that we have previously put off?

The finite mindset focuses on just surviving the pandemic until life gets back to normal. The infinite mindset focuses on a path that will allow the organization to thrive now and in the future. Finite does not inspire. An infinite mindset inspires people to dream big and be part of something bigger than themselves. 

We help clients focus on an infinite mindset through planning processes, leadership coaching, and building organizational culture. 

Reference: Sinek, S. (2019). The Infinite Game.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization and leaders develop an infinite mindset?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.

Effective Teams, Innovation, Leadership

The value of gathering feedback and debriefing right now

We have made adjustments in our organizational and personal lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations have implemented remote working, modified services, and developed new products. Some have fundamentally changed how they operate. I have had some disappointing experiences in recent weeks with retailers, but I have also had some great experiences. 

I wonder if organizations are taking time to ask the following questions:

  1. How are these changes going?
  2. What are we doing well?
  3. What lessons have we learned?
  4. What changes do we need to make?

When I facilitate meetings, I try to spend time at the end debriefing the meeting as a group. Doug Sundheim wrote: “Debriefing is a structured learning process designed to continuously evolve plans while they’re being executed.” The debriefing provides the group an opportunity to reflect on their work together and identify ways to improve their performance in the future. In addition, I use a debriefing during and at the end of projects and processes. 

K-12 schools and universities across the country are adjusting to providing virtual instruction. Many have limited experience with e-learning, and some have never done it before. 

Higher education has struggled in recent years as a result of increasing tuition rates, low unemployment, and decreasing numbers of high school graduates. Many private universities will especially feel the economic consequences of the pandemic. Families will be forced to make difficult financial decisions due to decreased wages or economic uncertainty. 

We all know that retaining an existing customer is easier than gaining a new customer. As an organization makes major changes in response to a crisis, it needs to take time to debrief on how well things are going. As Sundheim suggested, we need to “continuously evolve plans while they’re being executed.”

If you’re a K-12 school or university, are you asking your students and families how well virtual learning is going? This feedback will be critical for satisfaction rates, retention rates, relationship building, and quality learning experiences.

If you’re a restaurant or retailer that has adjusted to curbside pick ups, are you asking your customers about the quality of their experience? This feedback will be critical for satisfaction rates, ease of experience, customer retention, and attracting new customers.

If you’re a company that has moved to increased remote working environments, are you asking your employees about their job satisfaction? This feedback will be critical for retaining top talent, employee productivity, and customer service. 

If you’re a nonprofit who is dependent on donor support, are you asking your donors about their experiences with the organization? This feedback will be critical for donor retention, prioritization of services, and future initiatives.

In recent weeks, we have administered surveys and have been surprised to receive higher response rates than we typically anticipate. Some people are busier now, but many have more time than usual to provide valuable input. This is an opportunity for organizations right now. Consider asking for overall satisfaction levels and opportunities to improve, especially when you add new or change existing services. After you gather input, your team can use the debriefing questions listed above.

Strong organizations will gather feedback and make adjustments to ensure high satisfaction levels, customer retention rates, improve relationships, and boost productivity levels. During difficult times, people will remember whether you made their lives easier or more difficult. The organizations that are willing to listen now will be stronger in the near and long term. 

We help organizations gather feedback and facilitate planning processes to ensure future success. There can be advantages of utilizing an outside resource in the midst of a crisis. Please contact us for more information.

We wish you health and happiness. Stay well.

Sundheim, D. (2015, July 2). Debriefing: A simple tool to help your team tackle tough problems. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2015/07/debriefing-a-simple-tool-to-help-your-team-tackle-tough-problems

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization collect feedback and develop a plan for organizational success?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.

Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

The new normal

A lot has changed since the middle of last week as a result of COVID-19. On Thursday night, the president addressed the country, and on Friday social distancing became a common phrase, schools were cancelled, universities moved to all online classes, travel plans were changed, and businesses started feeling the impact of the pandemic. I am not a health expert but have closely followed the news. Based on what I continue to read, things will get worse before they get better, and we all need to find ways to adapt.

As a self-employed consultant, I have started to feel the impact of COVID-19. Some of the in-person workshops I am scheduled to lead have been postponed and others have been moved to an online format. Onsite group facilitated meetings might be cancelled unless another alternative can be arranged. My work will continue, but I will need to adjust to the new normal. I recommend organizations do the following during these challenging times:

  1. Stay the course. It is easy to get overwhelmed right now, but our organizations need to keep moving forward. Our products and services are still important and needed. The economy needs business activity.
  2. Plan accordingly. The US Chamber of Commerce has shared resources for businesses in response to COVID-19. Their checklist suggests businesses “prioritize critical operations, prepare for school closings, create a communication plan, establish possible teleworking policies, and coordinate with state external & local external health officials.” Encourage your employees to take the necessary precautions to eliminate and reduce the spread of the virus.
  3. Adjust. I have tried to stay positive during this time and continue to consider new ways to leverage technology to deliver services. In the coming months, I anticipate delivering more online workshops and using videoconferencing tools to conduct meetings. These tools can keep our organizations moving forward and reduce travel.

We are skilled at utilizing technology to deliver leadership training / coaching. In addition, we have had success working remotely with clients facilitating meetings, developing strategy, and leading creative problem solving. It can be difficult to replicate the experience of being in person, but there are many great tools available for organizations. In addition to leadership, strategy, and creative problem solving services, we have helped organizations leverage technology to deliver training.

The coming weeks and months will likely give us all more time at home. I hope we can all make the most of this time to devote our attention to family and friends. In addition, I sincerely hope that we can all adapt and become stronger as a result of these challenges. Stay healthy.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization’s leadership, strategy, creativity through the use of technology?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.

Leadership

Ways I have improved my productivity

When I started working full time as a consultant, one of my goals was to improve my work-life balance. I have always worked more than the standard 40 hour work, and I desired to spend more time with family and friends.

To help achieve a better work-life balance, I have worked to improve my productivity. Some of the areas that have helped include the following:

  1. Physical activity: We know that physical activity is good for our brains. Exercise improves memory and thinking and decreases stress. I try to start the day with push ups and/or sit ups, and I find this helps me wake up, get the brain working, and immediately provides a feeling of accomplishment. In addition, I try to spend time walking during breaks throughout the day.
  2. Structured breaks: Many of us try to work longer hours to get more accomplished. This article suggests the ideal length of time to focus on a single task is 52 minutes followed by a break of 17 minutes. I find 45-60 minutes on task followed by a 10-15 minute break allows me to be very productive and mentally fresh. My breaks often involve a quick walk, reading, or a mindless task such as emptying the dishwasher.
  3. Mindfulness: My life feels constantly busy, and I find taking some time to meditate quiets my mind, sharpens focus, and relieves anxiety. Here is one of many articles about the topic. When I read Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, I was surprised by the high percentage of successful people he interviewed that regularly practice meditation or mindfulness (80%).
  4. Schedule time to accomplish difficult tasks: I have worked hard to schedule my time better. My best mental focus occurs early in the day, so I avoid early morning meetings and other tasks that are not very mentally demanding when possible. I strive to keep the mornings open to focus on projects that require a great deal of focus, including complicated proposals, report writing for clients, blogging, and reviewing documents.
  5. Email: Most people I talk to struggle to keep up with their email. Some have suggested that people are more productive when they skip checking email when they first get up. I try to only check email when I am in a position to respond. In addition, I schedule time for email “blitzes” to knock out a lot of email in a short period of time. Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted email time can be very productive.
  6. Stop multitasking: I used to pride myself on my ability to multitask and was often working on multiple projects all at once. Instead, I endeavor to focus on one task at a time, and I find this approach allows me to complete tasks more efficiently than before. There are numerous studies that support the negative impact of multitasking on productivity, including this review of research from the American Psychological Association.
  7. Listen to audiobooks: Reading helps me increase my knowledge base as a consultant and stay current with best practices in my industry. It can be difficult for me to have uninterrupted time to actually sit down and read. I subscribe to Audible and listen to books in the car or when I exercise. Many public libraries offer free audiobooks for cardholders. I listen to audiobooks at 1.25X speed, and I know people that can listen at even faster speeds. The increased speed helps me listen to more books, and this Audible article suggests that comprehension can improve at faster speeds.

I’m not perfect. There are some days when I am more productive than others, but I find that intentionally focusing on productivity has changed how efficiently and effectively I use my time. What boosts your productivity?

We provide leadership coaching for clients in a wide variety of industries, and the coaching is customized based on each individual client’s needs. There are times when we help clients improve their productivity and carefully focus their use of time through a leadership development plan.

T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, creativity, and strategy in the surrounding region.

Ready to learn how we can help your organization’s leadership, strategy, or creativity?

Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, creativity, and strategy consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer.