Tag Archives: Global Teams

Do you approach each new year with renewed vigor and plans for self improvement? Perhaps a better gym routine or healthier lifestyle habits? Maybe you wish to tackle your work in a different manner? Do you then find yourself not able to sustain these plans beyond a few weeks?

New Year’s resolutions often end up lacking consistency, and with 2020 heralding the start of a new decade, the pressure is on a lot of people to start at full sprint. However, as we all know…by Mid January we are back in full swing and forgot that we wanted to go to the gym, eat healthy, drink less alcohol and spend more time with our families. As we grow older we even recognize how some of our patterns of workaholism become worse every year.

I have to admit that I had a hard time to let go of work on 23 December 2019 and a nagging feeling that I did not fully finish a task related to GDPR. (Don’t ask!!).

Now, as the New Year has started I realize a lack of motivation and find it a bit hard to get going again. I know that I will be seeing clients, students and even have a video shoot next week but I’ve been trying to procrastinate work as long as possible. And because I know that you and I often feel the same, I was struggling to tell you to start setting your goals for 2020. I read a few blog posts and then I remembered that I had already thought of different methods to overcome procrastination.

A while ago I wrote about four approaches to managing a project: “Committing to Work – When you say “I do” and then you do”. I explained four different ways you can motivate yourself through any project and a new career or life goal is essentially a project.

I ended my post with committing to doing the Master program in Global Mobility at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. My graduation party is almost a year ago. And while I still enjoy the moment of satisfaction and the additional certificate what I remember mostly about the course are the great people I met there: Lecturers, fellow students and organizers. People supporting me during my research and clients who answered a lot of questions about how they were using our RockMeApp. If you want to read my final thesis it has been published here.

If you really want to break through this decade try this:

1- Join us for a Global Rockstar Session

What is important to me when I work with clients in 1:1 Executive Coaching Programs such as the “RockMe! Program” is that we set three main career goals for you in our initial “Global Rockstar Session”. You can join us as a private client by following our onboarding process. As I only work with a limited number of private coaching clients this year I recommend that you email me your interest now and that we have a quick chat before the January enthusiasm passes.

2- Use the RockMeApp to define your weekly practices and learning goals

In my experience, nothing beats perseverance in guaranteeing whether you will be successful in achieving your three main goals. Professional athletes and billionaires have strict routines and practice regiments to be the very best.
I therefore always encourage clients to develop up to 10 weekly practices that will help them get closer to their main goals by using smaller steps. The RockMeApp therefore gives you a weekly checklist of those repetitive practices.

3- Understand and set your learning targets

Most of the time, if a goal overwhelms us in the professional context it is because we are lacking skills, knowledge or we don’t have the right attitude towards the task at hand. Break your three career and life goals into smaller, attainable sub-goals and define learning targets according to my global competency model. This is not so easy alone. Hence, I recommend you work with me continuously.

4- Define your three main priorities every week

From sub-goals you need to learn to set yourself three weekly priorities. This is what I do for years now with the RockMeApp. At the end of the week, I already write down my three main priorities for the week ahead. My productivity has been on an amazingly high level since I started doing this.

 

This is also known as Micro-productivity and helps your brain to see the final goal as more achievable and reduce procrastination. Furthermore, completing those smaller goals acts as positive feedback that helps motivate you towards that end goal!

5- Learn to reflect every week for at least 10 minutes

Lastly, I encourage my clients to answer four reflection questions at the end of every work week. You will know what they are if you are signed up to our RockMeApp.

 

Wishing you a Happy New Year 2020.

Kind regards,

Angie

It’s that time of the year again when we arbitrarily change our clocks by an hour because of reasons that nobody seems to understand anymore, in a planet-wide April Fool’s joke. Perhaps it’s just scientists’ way of reminding us that time is relative? Luckily, the EU is about to get rid of that nasty habit but until then I still cringe because now I literally have to get up at 4 am. I am a morning person but there are limits and I feel sorry for my global, virtual team because now they have to handle my bad mood all day long.

They know me well, so they probably just think “Oh, another one of her dramas”…

We have become accustomed to drama everywhere and we are used to arguing in meetings for the sake of positioning ourselves. Sometimes you just want to win over the other person’s view. It’s about who is better than the other. On the surface.

What is this argument really about?

Have you ever considered that you jump into an argument easily not because you want to move forward the team and “think further and outside the box” but just because you like power? Have you considered that you are worried about losing power when you treat your team members with respect and listen to them instead of thinking that you know best of all?

I revisited the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”  by Stephen Covey through this video recently. I was lucky to “win” access to one of Stephen’s talks around 13 years ago in Frankfurt. I was very impressed with him when he made a full concert hall of around 5000 managers stand up, close their eyes, turn around several times and then point towards “North”.

There were around 35 different options to show North.

If you want to become effective as a team you need to invest in the relationship level of the team members. You need to create the framework for a supportive atmosphere in which every team member feels valued and can share her view in a way that is appropriate to them.

You probably now wonder “Ok, I know that but it is easier said than done.” and as so often you are hoping for the quick fix, the recipe or the shortcut to global virtual team productivity.

May I take your delusions from you?

There are no shortcuts in life. Someone will always suffer if you try the quick fixes, the formula or the recipes that might work for others. You will first of all need to work on yourself. Once you are ready to be a “rounded” leader who can set aside ego and nurture a team then you can read the six tough steps to start working more effectively in global, virtual teams.

1) Confront your fears and find a place of self-awareness within you

That is the hardest part of self-development. Often our ego is strong and demands that we nurture it daily. It is like the flesh-eating plant in “Little Shop of Horrors”. The ego needs fodder. We have built ways of showing to ourselves that we are worthy. It could be the new certificate that you have to attain, the endorsements on LinkedIn or the positive feedback you expect in your performance reviews and your 360-evaluation. You behavior is driven by optimizing your evaluation, turnover and other Key Performance Indicators. Learn to be self-sufficient without depending on numbers that prove you are a superhero!

2) Identify the formal roles and responsibilities of your team members

While every team needs formal roles and responsibilities most conflicts occur at the handover points. In a fully functioning and high performing team everyone also supports the other team member when they sense that the other team member is overloaded or when they feel that they have the capacity. The more dispersed and virtual the team works, the harder it is to see how much capacity everyone has.

It is your job as the leader to identify the gaps and to build a feedback loop where team members can openly communicate when they feel overloaded or when they do not have enough challenging work. You probably understand that every team member needs a healthy mix of challenges and routine tasks in order to be satisfied at work.

3) Unmask the informal roles of your team members

In your team you will find informal roles too. In a flatter hierarchy you might have an opinion leader who does not necessarily agree with you. You might find this team member challenging but this team member could be your greatest ally and supporter if you understood how this person needs to be inspired

Maybe they need more encouragement, maybe they need more brainstorming  or maybe they need more structure. You need to learn to read your team members and the informal roles they play and then adapt your style accordingly.

4) Find out the areas of support for the team members

In my management and coaching experience I learned that every human being  has needs. It sometimes took me up to two years to drive a team to high performance and great collaboration. When you understand the learning steps the team member has to go through to get to the next level you will also understand how you can lead this person to success.

Instead of asking them to work on projects that are way out of their capabilities you can give them small success experiences so they can grow in small steps and keep their self-confidence in tact. I have seen many good team members in other teams who were crushed and did not believe in their competencies anymore because their manager was overconfident or micro-managing them.

5) Ensure every team member has a voice

In any intercultural team but also monocultural team you will have more introverted team members. They will not always speak up in meetings and voice their opinions. Others might just feel it is not worth to discuss further and shut up. You can use various tools and methods to give your quieter team members a voice.

It also helps if you ask a neutral facilitator to support your annual kick-off meetings or other team building exercises. You might not see yourself how you hinder certain team members from voicing their opinion.

6) Be aware of your limiting assumptions

When a team member is very engaged but not necessarily of the same view as you are it could be a good point to consider. You might assume that the team member is less qualified or experienced than you are and as a result, you might not take her seriously.

You could also be biased against team members who behave like yourself or have similar preferences in working style. This is what we reveal in coaching sessions. In my experience, this process is easier when you work with me through this transition phase as you might have cultural and other blindspots that hinder you from fast progress.

These are six tough ways to improve your collaboration in global virtual teams.

Let’s have a conversation about your current global leader and team performance goals. You can also discuss your expatriate career topics with me. Pick my brain by claiming your RockMeRetreat*** Goal Setting Session (with Code: RMR19)


I’m sure you have been told countless times in recent years that in this driven, fast-changing world, the agile will reign supreme. I’m sure you have also wondered, what exactly does that mean?

I think the simplest answer to that is: Professionals who can keep up to date with their skill set are the ones who will find sustained success. Keeping your skills and knowledge in tip-top condition is something I’ve touched on in a previous Club Sandwich too, but today I’d like to focus on the aspect of digital competency. For many professionals, maintaining a current skill set as this new world gets more digital-centric is the real challenge. This means asking yourself, are you someone with a robust IT skill set or do you ‘just get by’?

If your answer is the latter, perhaps it is time to consider ramping up the attention you give to this aspect. Being able to work with a few basic apps and systems will no longer take you the distance. I understand that getting to grips with this rapid change can be too much for some professionals, who feel that their learning progress has hit a brick wall, or become a slow crawl. This can naturally lead to a feeling of frustration and impatience for ‘not getting it’, which may directly affect your productivity and self esteem.

What I’d like to do today is to help you boost your productivity in ways that may also bolster your digital competence. The following are a few methods I’ve used personally and have assisted clients as well. Let’s do this!

Have a read through of Jane Piper’s excellent book Focus in the Age of Distraction
Jane Piper is a digital wellbeing expert who draws on her experience in Focus, highlight key consequences of living in the digital age that can impact productivity. There have been several studies on how digital apps, especially networking ones have affected our ability to focus and engage – something that is now visible in workplaces around the world. For those among us who find themselves struggling to focus and perform at their peak, this book is a must read!

Start using a productivity app
Now, don’t get scared! Most productivity apps on the market can appear daunting, and hide most features behind a paywall, that is, they let you use their basic version for free but require you to pay a one-time or recurring cost for premium features. That means you never know if the money spent will be worth it. Instead, I’ll focus you towards the best apps that offer these features for free, allowing you to find your own groove.

A productivity or task management app can be something as simple as Gmail’s Tasks list, or something more elaborate like Microsoft To-Do and Todoist. What is similar about these apps and what you will learn is this: lists help your mind declutter and refocus. These apps provide additional help by providing reminders, categorization options and cross-system(platform) support.

The unique thing each app brings is what will determine if they are something you will wish to use long-term. People who enjoy the satisfaction of making lists will prefer Todoist, while those who may require organizational options will go for Microsoft To-Do.

Find the app that works for you and start planning your day better!

Are You More of a Visual Thinker? Then Play to Your Strength! 
Productivity apps are great but only if you can harness their power effectively. For those among us who are more visual thinkers, or work with visuals and design, will definitely find themselves flocking to Trello and its card-based approach. It’s like having a digital corkboard to map out your tasks, and definitely worth trying out.

Experiment with Global Virtual Team Collaboration Apps
For those among us who run teams, there are group productivity and task management/collaboration tools such as Slack and Asana that are worth looking into. A note on Slack usage: It is primarily a team collaboration tool but its productivity boosting capabilities come from its ability to integrate with Google Drive/Dropbox and Salesforce. I find it important that you experiment with your team and review after a few months what worked well and what didn’t work well. You might notice generational differences in app usage and effectiveness.

Simplify and find tools that work for your team or collective
Yesterday, I listed all the tools we are using in one of our collectives on a flipchart paper. I tried to paint the icons without looking at my iphone and had to smile later because they actually look slightly different. However, I realized that we often use many tools already but we haven’t agreed on simple communication principles. So the work only starts when you have identified the right tools. (The hammer alone doesn’t help. You also need to bring in energy to slam in the nail.) We will continue to discuss global virtual team collaboration in the upcoming issues.

Unplug and keep a have-done diary
One aspect (that is also addressed in Jane Piper’s book) is how the pressure and stress of work combined with the always-on digital aspects can put us in a state of mind where we are unable to focus on anything, much fewer deliverables and time management. 

Here’s what you do: List down your completed daily tasks. I recommend a notebook and handwriting for this exercise. Not only will this give you a break from the screen but help you analyze your productivity cycle, its peaks and low points. I’ve learned this method from my coach educator Boudewijn Vermeulen and it served me well during hectic times.

I talk about more productivity hacks that can help you reclaim your diary here. Practice one of these hacks per week and let me know how your experience went in the RockMeApp! You can add them to your “weekly practices”.

 

 

My favorite bloggers write as if they are talking to me. I feel I know them. Great writing is a skill bloggers have shaped for years before anyone reads their posts. In our communication in companies we often write less perfect.

We have not learnt in university how to write an email that another person will understand. In my school, there was no course on business communication but we learnt a lot of crap about marketing.

We do not write English at a level where engage a native speaker. Most native speakers will find errors in our emails and probably find your style rude (German) or long-winded (French).

We perform anyway. We pride ourselves with the average number of emails we digest every day. Despite more communication there is less understanding.

Do we see a major change or has the shift happened and we feel the consequences? What is the change in the global society that influences us, creates ambiguity and sleepless nights?

The funny haired propaganda talkers of this world fuel the illusion (or delusion?), that if we all sat together with the people who look like us, talk like us and think like us, everything that is “wrong” with the world (economic challenges, unemployment, hate, scarcity of resources, war) would go away.

(#Bazinga)

You and I know that that we can only change the world if we model the behavior we wish to see in others. Only action creates change. (Thank you Mr. Gandhi)

Ask yourself: Can you reduce your emails and act instead?

Consider yourself privileged

Clare Joy and I held a workshop on Saturday for the CapacityZurich Refugee and Migrant Business Mentoring Program called “Building relationships and Enhancing Business Communications”. We held the workshop in English and German and most of our participants were native speakers of a third mother tongue. It required rethinking for me. We worked with a volunteer translator Viola Zoller (who did an amazing job) and Clare and I learnt to pause. We all spoke slower than normal and I noticed that even though we did a good job it was hard to keep everyone engaged.

The workshop made me understand once again how privileged I am, that I had the chance to live in English-speaking countries and learn the language at a level where I can now work in English. It also made me aware how we often exclude people based on a lack of language proficiency, how we do not take them seriously if their grammar is flawed or their pronunciation hard to understand.

I encourage you to watch your own behavior around others who are not in the culturally dominant group. I promise that I will try even harder to listen to anybody and to speak slow and use simple language.