Remote Work

Improving the Virtual Work Experience

Though much of the workforce can attest to a year of incredible adaptation during the onslaught of COVID-19, their challenges and level of perseverance have largely gone unaddressed.  The virtual work experience can be difficult to navigate. The world as we know it has not stopped moving, and though employees held to high expectations have managed the challenges of this digital transformation, business leaders are still left to consider how to better support all employees as they continue “business as usual.”

This support has already most frequently come in the form of stipends or reimbursements for employees to craft supplied home offices–from desks and office chairs to computer hardware and software. Where companies fall short, however, is addressing the psychological deterrents in this new working environment. With more stressful time pressures and less direct validation (that might be organically offered in a shared workspace), employees are tackling the massive learning curve of how to do their jobs in isolation. Even for introverted types, the low levels of engagement are enough to hinder learning and progress in their careers.

What about communication in virtual work?

Because word-of-mouth communication is effectively reduced to shared workspace platforms (i.e. Slack, Zoom), employees must simultaneously adhere to new paths and methods of information-sharing. Of course, while these technologies have significantly eased the initial transition to remote work, they have merely simulated a productive working experience for millions of people around the globe. Company leadership assumes levels of familiarity and comfortability for employees as they attempt to collaborate in these digital spheres. Unfortunately, adequate training and preparation have remained inaccessible, as workers are unclear about the kind of knowledge and skills necessary to continue their work online.

Certain industries have completely halted operations, but most have been thrust into new environments unlike what they had previously been accustomed to. Even for generations of employees traditionally considered tech-savvy, difficulties with these models have arisen: multiple national surveys released over the course of the pandemic indicated that younger office employees are struggling with the longevity of remote work than their older counterparts. A December 2020 study by the Pew Research Institute observes that out of 10,332 American adults, 42% of workers ages 18-49 found teleworking to be very difficult.

Who’s adapting to virtual work?

Gen X, millennial, and Gen Z employees have generally been more receptive to the flexibility of working from home, but these groups have also noted that they feel more negatively connected than before. In juggling the responsibilities of a job and parenting, as well as living through a public health crisis, little balance can be achieved.

As companies continue to plan for a post-vaccination world, they should do so with the input and wellbeing of their workforce in mind. In a year of pushing through the unknown, business leaders can use teleworking experiences to better inform the kind of support their employees need to succeed in any circumstance.

Ways to Create Agile Team Success

5 Important Ways to Create Agile Team Success

One of the contributors to agile team success is the ability to implement and maintain commitment, momentum, and speed.  To achieve success, team leaders need to create a high degree of achievement and productivity where the team operates in an environment of productivity.

Benefits of creating an agile team

  • Improve productivity.
  • Better control and increase conversions.
  • Increase flexibility and customer satisfaction.
  • Improvement in overall company growth.

Here are the keys:

  • Ensure consistent output
  • Make sure people know how to contribute
  • Re-center and re-ground people on the mission
  • Proactively confront challenges

Tip 1:  Encourage Creativity over Consensus

It’s important to know the difference between consensus and collaboration. If you, as the team leader, are driving to an outcome or trying to achieve something new, people may need help to understand.  Establishing and maintaining an effective and efficient communication approach between leaders and teammates is important.

Tip 2:  Communicate Frequently

Teams with problem-solving. Problem-solving and team management is a really important element of effective collaboration. A team needs to have the ability to determine problem areas that aren’t solved efficiently and effectively.

Tip 3: Focus on Contributions, not Activity

Team contribution can achieve more than single activities. As a team, all members work together with high energy and get amazing results for any organization. teamwork is very beneficial for creating a strategy for business growth.

You must be a good team leader to manage a team and get more work done in less time. Always focus on contributions because every success story starts with a single step and then all steps one by one make a huge success with the contributions of the team members.

Tip 4:  Coordinate Achievements

Results. Creating an effective and coordinated approach is essential for success. In order to develop a cooperative effort, team members must know their responsibilities and tasks. Attempting to communicate appropriately is a factor that leads to an organization to fail.

Tip 5:  Treat Collaboration as a Process

Coordination is the process of working together to accomplish a common aim. Many organizations use to delegating work which is known as 16, a standard approach.

Team coordination is a significant contributor to business success. Coordination is necessary when it comes to team performance and problem-solving. Team and A cohesive, distributed is able to attain objectives and their goals efficiently and quickly.

Coordination helps employees coordinate their efforts in response to an organization’s organizational staff’s response to a given situation. Coordination is an integral part of any team. It’s a term that may be used to describe many different factors that affect an organization’s ability.

With continuous improvement, communication, and cooperation, there is a team able to boost its performance. The ability is a critical part of success in any team setting. Team members must have a common understanding of the project to enhance a team’s effectiveness.

Communication is the process of passing on staff, ideas to staff members, and other people who need information. To be effective, each member of the team must be given sufficient information to make.

Communication is a type of management practice in which messages are exchanged by one or more people. In the organization, communication could be expressed in verbal, written, visual, or electronic form.

Communication is the process by which individuals in an organization to express their ideas, opinions, and knowledge to other people. Communication can be done either explicitly or implicitly; implicit, or explicit; indirect or direct; overt or subtle; factual or subjective; social or technical; conversational or impersonal.

Communication is an integral component of management. When team members and leaders develop and maintain the ability to communicate effectively, they are able to supply insight that is critical to the group members and other parties

5 Things You Need to Know to Lead a Team

5 Things You Need to Know to Lead a Team

Team leaders must prove their value to the organization to lead a team. In today’s business landscape, that means “doing more with less.” Admittedly, doing more, while doing less is nearly impossible in most organizations, making it difficult to lead a team to achieve business outcomes.

In most organizations, the growth engine is not focused on improving the sales and marketing eco-system within which customer-facing teams operate. If it did, profitable growth would be the requirement and outcome. Who determines what is important and what is valuable? The company’s customer. Clearly, that’s not easy. Orchestrating the people, process, technology, and budgets within the organization often means changing the scope and influence of sponsorship across the organization so that higher-value activities take priority and profitable growth becomes the mandate.  That’s why cross-functional team leadership is so crucial.

Why Must Team Leaders Orchestrate to Elevate?

Team leaders who are orchestrators understand their teams need to blend integration, alignment, and coordination of the various parts of the company to be effective. Teaming is about the human agents involved but it’s also about the process they follow to create something of value.

The characteristics of a team leader must align with and support the value creation process.

Team  leaders help their team add the right value when they:

Learn How to effectively lead a team

  1. Tailor Teaming Strategies. There is no one-size-fits-all sales force. Commercial growth success depends on orchestrating resources and success to achieve the business and sales strategy. With that understanding, team leaders must know the relationships that need to exist between sales teams and the company’s customers. For example, supporting strategic account teams vs. the sales development team is completely different. Team leaders need strategies to adapt and support these teams.
  2. Decrease Team Burden. This means simplification of selling procedures, steps, and effort. While this may sound great, it’s going to be perceived as “doing less” by internal groups such as sales operations, sales training, and even sales management. Team leader competencies are necessary to decrease seller burden are based on sales acumen, high degrees of customer empathy, and an understanding of the sales process and what’s important. For example, navigating the internal friction points around enabling the middle of the funnel, not just top-of-the-funnel.
  3. Decrease Wasted EffortThis means defining which initiatives and which programs, projects, and content are the highest priority. This may sound great, but there is very little cross-collaborative prioritization to rationalize at the point of sale. Prioritization within each silo means sellers will prioritize at their device and desktop. Team leader competencies are necessary to align internal teams around priorities that are based on relationship building, emotional intelligence, and business acumen. For example, navigating the friction points around siloed departmental mandates and perceived needs, instead of sales strategy or business goals.
  4. Clarify What “Good” Looks Like. Everyone wants good. Good content, good training, good products, good customers. However, sales teams and leaders define good based on what the customer says, thinks, and uses. While this may sound great, it means defining what sellers need to see, how they need to see it, and how they need to be trained based on how sellers will use the “good stuff” with customers in an actual sales conversation. Team leader competencies are necessary to redirect training, marketing, and product outputs and deliverables to clear sales conversation requirements. For example, changing the sales training and marketing checklists from “getting content done” to “getting content used” in the customer conversations.

Because these challenges are cross-functional, and multiple perspectives exist, team leaders must elevate their value-add and become orchestrators.

What Do Orchestrators Do?

Team Leaders create value when they orchestrate within the commercial system. For example, helping sellers cross-sell more, decreasing the cost of sales, or aligning skills to new sales strategies. Operating across the silos in the commercial eco-system (sales and marketing) means orchestrating people, processes, technologies, and budgets to achieve profitable growth. To achieve that level of ongoing contribution, team leaders work collaboratively to prioritize initiatives and achieve strategic and tactical alignment through shared vision, integrated work, and focus on measurable results. They work “with” others — not “doing to” others to achieve outcomes (decrease sales cycles, increase margins, or increase deal sizes).

Team leaders must be orchestrators within the commercial system. They must prioritize initiatives to achieve strategic as well as tactical alignment through shared vision, integrated workflows, and measurable results.

Team leaders create the most impact and value when:

  1. Focus on mission and goals: Understand the intersection of business strategy and sales strategy in relation to both the long-term and short-term needs of the portfolio of customer-facing teams they support. They focus on pursuing the mission and goals to drive outcomes over time while factoring all the related moving parts of the eco-system impacted by the strategy.
  2. Prioritize the right goals at the right moments: Collect and synthesize the right information in order to create actionable insights that inform decision-making. They engage in continuous and sustained improvement efforts by understanding and balancing the interests of the many different stakeholders involved. They manage innovation, operational excellence, and tactical implementation by prioritizing initiatives and work for impacted teams. They marshall resources to pursue both quick wins and strategic impact while adapting to the needs of customer-facing teams they support.
  3. Guide the narrative by confronting reality: Understand client-facing teams and remove barriers to performance and productivity by aligning processes and workflows to better support customer conversations. They work with others to inventory, baseline, and improve the components required to support conversations at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving lifecycle. They are both willing and able to analyze process challenges, performance gaps, and skills gaps and recommend, implement, and improve the internal eco-system so people or customers don’t carry the burden.
  4. Driving results by design, not effort: Design out complexity, so people don’t have to carry the burden in customer conversations. They manage work to ensure work is valuable while making trade-offs in scope, resource allocation, and ongoing targeted execution efforts. They go-slow to go-fast by factoring in the needs of various stakeholders while building and deploying ongoing initiatives and services to help customer-facing teams be successful. They recognize and address gaps among the personal, team, or organizational processes and align the right eco-system components to confront complexity that is impacting customer-facing teams.
  5. Unlock energy and create momentum: Balance the tension between “getting stuff done” and “figuring stuff out” by communicating tailored and impactful messages to impacted stakeholders. They provide “English-to-English” translation across teams to help them get to yes. They understand and empathize with the various actors impacted by the work in order to proactively set and manage expectations. They resolve disagreements to ensure customer-facing team members are successful.
  6. Catalyze change through collaboration: Advance collaboration and productive relationships across organizational boundaries to ensure team cohesion and unity. They proactively gather varying perspectives, set and manage expectations, and guide decision making to minimize conflict and ensure a common focus among impacted stakeholders. They view teams as the primary way work is accomplished and focus people on what they can agree on. They treat change management as a discipline as they work to ensure the right people are contributing to the work at hand while achieving the future state definition of success.

What Do Team Leaders Need to Know?

Orchestrators need to know:

  • Sales & Marketing: There is no “one size fits all” approach to enabling a portfolio of sales teams, and each regional leader and team needs to know and believe they are getting their own win. This knowledge is necessary because selling teams are unique and often lack formal documentation. Additionally, team leaders need to understand marketing and messaging and their impact on customer conversations in order to leverage marketing expertise.
  • Conversation Sciences: Sales conversations are ultimately about communication. The ability to encode information, transmit and share information, and ensure it is decoded by a variety of different stakeholders. In no other profession is there such a mash-up of sociology, psychology, communication, finance, and economics. People get degrees in one, and salespeople need to blend all. This knowledge is important because commercial enablement leaders need to always remain laser-beam focused on improving sales conversations. It’s not an art anymore.
  • Tactical + Strategic Execution: Know what’s required to operate in a tactical short term, as well as the strategic long term to the benefit of their sales organization and company. This knowledge is important because commercial enablement leaders need to catalog and respond to dynamic based on market conditions as well as the goals of leadership. you need a great team leader to lead a team.
  • Complex Systems Deep knowledge of the inter-related nature of commercial growth; including marketing, sales, customer service, product, engineering, and financial implications on sales conversations and transactions. knowledge is important because commercial enablement leaders need to see the inter-related parts and components impacting sales conversations.
  • Business Strategy: Full understanding of the revenue engine of the organization, including how it makes money and translates resources into value. This knowledge is important because commercial enablement leaders need to help sellers communicate that value much like their CEO does when communicating to investors.

7 Best Pillars of Team Based Operating Models

7 Best Pillars of Team Based Operating Models

As companies across most industries continue to evolve their business strategies, new practices are required to deliver value to today’s more tech-driven customers. Very often it means moving beyond “translating strategy into execution” and into “we better close the gap with our customers or we’ll be irrelevant.” In order to sell more, business leaders are executing more customer-centric strategies that are so disruptive entirely new business models are created (Uber, Amazon, Blue Apron, and AirBnb are representative examples). These new strategies and business models are designed to close the gap between customer expectations and the products and services being brought to market.

But what happens when new strategies require an existing businesses to elevate, modernize, and change in order to be more relevant to customers?

These business strategies often require the implementation of more adaptive and scalable operating models — especially within shared services organizations that act as a “supply chain” behind growth-oriented functions such as sales, product, marketing, service, and consulting (where perceived value is monetized).

What’s an Operating Model?

An operating model is the execution-focused operational design that activates and delivers on the organization’s business strategy. While this may seem academic, the reality is anything but. If customers (and ultimately the customer experience) are the focal point of new business strategies, modern operating models also put the customer at the center of how people work. And unfortunately, if customers are allowed to participate inside a company, many of the processes, people, and technologies wouldn’t make the customer-centric cut.

For example:

  • What if your customers read your team’s email and messaging inbox? What value would they “see”? Most likely, none.
  • What if your customers attended your team meetings? What value do those meetings create to them? Most likely, they’re a waste of time from a customer’s perspective.
  • What if your customers unpacked your workflows and processes? Most likely, they would wonder why your company has made things so complex.
  • What if your customers demanded to know what value they’re getting from every employee they’re paying for? Most likely, employees would not be able to explain the value they personally create for each individual customer.

Let’s face it. Most (not all) people working within the company define their value based on their position in the organizational chart, a hierarchy of divisions, departments, and management structures. But the problem is, 100% of your customers don’t care how you’re organized. They just want the value.

The organizational structures of yesterday aren’t adequate to align to the customer’s experience of today.

It’s time to revisit our thinking. Leaders know they have to “break down silos” and “embed more design thinking.” But, what leaders need to do is drive change in how cross-functional teams work and how those cross-functional teams deliver value to customers. This is especially true in enablement functions such as Sales Enablement, Learning & Development, Knowledge Management, and employee communications (to name a few). It’s highly likely these functions need to re-think their alignment to the new customer-centric business strategies they support. Perhaps in doing so, the relationship can also work the other way around, whereas ideas for operating model improvements can also lead to changes in business strategy?

To align shared services functions to the business strategy, our team has focused on elevating and modernizing 7 components of more customer-centric operating models (I personally have a background in learning, enablement, and a PhD in organizational design. This helps me figure out how to accelerate execution strategies with people who support more customer-intimate business strategies — but it’s more difficult then it sounds).

There are 7 components that require investments in time, effort, and resources in order to evolve to meet, or exceed, customer expectations. All of these need to have the customer at the center of the design.

The components are:

Component 1: Service Capabilities

These are investments required to modernize the way services are delivered to the business. These can be L&D services, sales enablement services, onboarding services, quality assurance services, and even program management services (to name a few). Most shared services functions aren’t in the services business. They’re ‘product pushers’ who expect internal customers (and external customers) to find value in what they’re doing, instead of being maniacal about adding the right value to improve the experiences of the customers they support. Ideally, these service capabilities support critical business workflows aligned to the customer’s journey and are linked to measurable outcomes: such as increasing employee skills, improving product launch results, accelerating order-to-cash processes end to end.

Component 2: Organization

Investments to modernize the organizational structure including roles, responsibilities, reporting relationships, culture and governance model required to deliver services aligned to the business strategy.

Component 3: People

Investments in plans and role specifications supporting the recruitment, development, and retention of human capital required to execute the future vision, mission, and operating model of the function.

Component 4: Processes

Processes fall into 2 groups:

  • Service management processes: These are investments necessary to build and standardize the processes involved in managing services to ensure services are aligned to achieve business outcomes desired by key stakeholders. Includes catalog management, financial management, SLAs, demand / availability / capacity management, help desk for end-user support, business relationship management for consulting and support.
  • Service delivery processes: This includes the investments necessary to standardize the agile and collaborative teaming involved in building and delivering services that achieve business outcomes. This includes processes to manage requirements, design and build different service methods, quality assurance and user acceptance testing, and maintenance of existing services to align with changing needs of the business.

Component 5: Technology

Investments to standardize, modernize on technology and management tools used by a variety of different teams involved in the development and delivery of services. Technology can help break down silos, and it needs to enable customer-centric value. This includes hardware, software, and devices supporting content development and delivery platforms, authoring tools, portals, libraries of content, and learning enablement technologies and integration with other platforms such as ERP planning, candidate application software, and performance management platforms.

Component 6: Infrastructure

Investments to modernize training infrastructure including physical facilities, conferencing spaces, classrooms, and associated physical assets such equipment, office furniture and supplies. This is more important than most executives realize — especially in environments where new creative skills such as design thinking, collaborative problem solving, and agile development are required.

Component 7: Performance Measures

Investments to define, measure, and report service performance measures and service levels (SLAs) that are aligned with defined business objectives. Performance measures and reports provide insight, are actionable, and improve decision-making

What’s the Impact?

As leaders begin to transform from a siloed approach to a more cross-functional and services-oriented approach, they can expect:

  1. More business impact: A modern operating model will drive measurable business impact through a new operating model that evolves the services function that will enable the organization to transform the customer experience.
  2. More efficient processes: A modern operating model will improve the repeatability and consistency of essential processes to ensure value added contributions by all team members aligned to customer-facing, revenue-generating teams.
  3. Better and faster outputs: A modern operating model will help leaders and teams transform and re-engineer the way they approach their value contribution by creating updating, and delivering outputs (deliverables) faster, more consistently.
  4. Improved partnership with internal business unit leaders: A modern operating model will improve and tighten the collaboration and integration with internal leaders and partners (Such as IT, integration teams, product, and training).
  5. Coordinated mergers and acquisitions: A modern operating model will accelerate the merger-integration of disparate functions into interim and final operating models that align with the customer.


Top 5 Ways Collaboration Drives Value

The term collaboration in a sense denotes the interconnection of both information and ideas. At the same time, collaboration can be a way of working — and a process. No matter how you view collaboration, communication is always required. Especially when you consider that collaboration happens between and among people on a team to get the work done. These concepts require special consideration for team leaders seeking to maintain momentum, given the business environment we all find ourselves in.

It’s important to understand the difference between communication and collaboration:

  • Communication refers to just about any type of information exchange including the spoken and written word. When people gather, they usually have an opinion on an issue, a view that’s made by the sharing of information with others on the team. Communication requires understanding the patterns of all others. In addition, it involves listening in to each with empathy. Communication is very much about the skills of the people involved.
  • Collaboration on the other hand usually means inputs provide a different way of thinking. This means that people have different perspectives, and there is an exchange of ideas and opinions. To what purpose? Well, usually they’re engaged in some sort of production or creation. For example, building something together. This production, this type of “work” implies a process underlying collaboration as people engage. Collaboration is more about processes or methods followed by the people involved.

The Collaborative Environment

Creating a collaborative environment means blending communication (skills) and collaboration (process) to help people contribute to the success of the team. For example, achieving a deadline, launching a new product, or building a new capability. When people work with others, they communicate what they know and believe. They share their point of view. While communication is to be expected, the collaboration process is often non-existent or poorly understood.

Collaborative skills and processes are not natural and must be taught and modeled. Many team members struggle with the process of collaboration. In fact, most school systems work hard to ensure their students don’t have these skills or processes (but that’s another post).

Communication and Collaboration Are the Keys to Team Member Contribution

collaboration is a process

Why does this matter?

  1. Teaming: Teaming is created by collaboration and communication. In a team setting, the leader acts as a facilitator and allows other people to bring their authentic selves to the team to help make decisions, and contribute to the progress of the team. The more contribution people make to the team the more the team strengthens and develops.
  2. Give & Get: Probably one of the best techniques to boost productivity and reduce interpersonal friction is to work together and create something together. This requires “give and take”. And that means a lot of collaboration (process) and communication (skills). The question is, give and take of what? For starters, a give and take of innovative ideas, diverse thoughts, and unique perspectives. People need to be able to use their own strengths to solve problems and create progress and build upon each other’s discoveries. Empathy helps, but curiosity is required.
  3. Progress: The blend of process and skills enables team members to support the creative process and build upon their skills, and naturally keep an open mind. That translates into contributions and that means progress. The more contributions someone makes, the more the team can provide feedback to build on what’s working. Many teams bog down because they haven’t spent the time to define their collaboration process clearly.
  4. Speed. Working together has a massive benefit to working faster. While it may seem counterintuitive that adding more people creates speed, it’s not. As the team works towards a common goal, communication and collaboration help create increased focus is, and that leads to better results faster.
  5. Productivity. when people communicate and collaborate the quality of work goes up. People become more effective and efficient in what they’re contributing to the success of the team. Working together makes everybody else look forward to the end result of the undertaking. They also come up with solutions and bring others along.

While working well together is helpful to everyone, it’s important to be clear on how to make that happen — especially in remote or digital environments. While every person has potential and wants to do well, they need to have the skills, and they need to be willing to engage in the collaboration process for the good of the team. Their contributions make the team a productive one, even if it means setting aside time to “Be Collaborative” on a daily basis.