Author Archives: Nabeha

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 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”

On the subject of productivity and keeping yourself on top of the career ladder, I’m offering the RockMeRetreat from the 21st November to the 28th November – 2019 this The RockMeRetreat is a seven-day leadership retreat in Southern Germany where you will get to network with other Expat Leaders and Professionals and develop your global leader competency.
The RockMeRetreat is designed to amplify your success on your chosen career ladder and get you closer towards the breakthrough you need to become a Rockstar in your chosen field!

Sign up here for entering the conversation with me. If you wish to speak to me directly please book an appointment by replying to this email.

Modern professionals are required to keep pace with a rapidly changing work ecosystem, so let us all focus on finding that sweet spot where we perform consistently and confidently.

PS: If your Corporate IT Policy doesn’t allow you to download apps on your iphone you could either challenge the policy or consider analogue methods such as the Have-Done-Diary and other forms of visualization. You can also work with our RockMeApp for free if you are willing to join our scientific research project.

by Brooke Faulkner via @faulknercreek

The worldwide web has also led to a more worldwide economy, and despite recent political manoeuvrings and issues with trade, that situation is not likely to change anytime soon. Many companies have moved toward not only a remote workforce, but one that is international as well.

Think of the social media sharing app Buffer. The company has a 100 percent remote workforce with no physical home office. Employees and often their spouses are treated to a once-a-year retreat paid for with the money the company saves on infrastructure. Employees work around the world, in many different places and environments.

How do they manage this workforce? How do other countries do it? What does it take to manage employees across the globe and from various cultures who speak different languages? It is challenging, but for many companies, it is not only worth it, but it is a necessary evil.

Understanding Culture

One of the first challenges you will face is maintaining company culture when a different societal culture defines the country where your employees are located. When any company is looking to expand globally, it is important to maintain vision, mission, and values. This involves some important steps in cross-cultural management.

Send Experienced Teams to Establish New Teams

No matter how great a leader you might be, you cannot instil company culture by yourself. Typically, as a company grows, the company culture becomes a blend of employees and management working together. Assemble a small, experienced team to help set up and manage remote teams even if they do so virtually. This will assure that mission and vision are communicated properly.

Understand and Honor Local Customs and Traditions

You cannot establish a workforce presence in another country without understanding and respecting local customs and traditions including holidays, religious restrictions, and other cultural differences. To work with these things, you will have to think outside the box and have alternative holidays and other considerations.

This translates to many different areas, including the location and layout of offices, necessary break times, and even dress codes if you have one. Your team must work to align your company culture with that of your host country.

Work at Cultural Alignment

This cultural alignment will take work. There are several important aspects of aligning your company culture globally, and it will not happen organically. Here are some points to consider.

  • Direction and purpose: What is your “why” and how does it translate to a new culture?
  • Supervisor support: What does management support mean, and how can it be achieved remotely or globally?
  • Learning and growth: Are there opportunities for growth even globally? Are training materials available in the native language and are they relevant?
  • Relationships and team performance: Relationships must be developed outside of employees’ and management’s comfort zones, but the end result is rewarding. Pick team members who are willing to do this.
  • Make feedback into influence: Your global team members are more than just employees and will have ideas of how to make your company work in their culture. Welcome their influence and implement their feedback.
  • Recognition and rewards: These may look different in another culture, but they are still necessary and relevant.

By making the alignment of your company culture a priority and following these steps, you will increase the value of your global presence.

Managing Remote Teams

Like Buffer, many global teams are remote, and managing remote workers has additional challenges. While there are many advantages to a remote team such as global talent, saving the cost of relocation, and the addition of diversity, there are also some drawbacks. One of those is that they can be more difficult to manage.

LIke cultural alignment, there are some general guidelines for managing virtual teams that apply nearly universally.

  • Build trust: Your team must trust that you have their best interests at heart, just as you do those of your customers. You have to follow through with what you say you will do, and give them the support they need to accomplish the tasks you set for them.
  • Have clear goals, standards, and rules: A part of this building of trust is to have clear and consistent expectations and goals. Work must be done to a standard regardless of where in the world your employee is.
  • Communicate clearly and constantly: Communication is the key, and while this can be challenging in different time zones and across the world, it still can be done. As a leader, it is your responsibility to align your schedule with theirs, not for them to inconvenience themselves to accommodate you.
  • Build a team rhythm: Consistency is also key. Develop a rhythm and a schedule your team can adhere to, and that works for all of you. Develop and stick to consistent workflows to keep everyone at their most productive.

To manage a remote team, you will need a more flexible company culture, especially worldwide. Be conscious of this, and don’t micromanage no matter where in the world your employees are. Your management style must be consistent and predictable, too. Managing people is much different than managing spreadsheets and numbers, no matter how far removed from your office they are.

Remember, you are the leader, and the satisfaction of the employees and, in the end, the customer is your responsibility.

Providing Your Team with Tools

One of the key elements to working globally is to have tools that translate to everyone and are available in a variety of languages and formats for different countries. There are several tools that do this in different categories.

There are other ways to support your team as well. Tablets or laptops are the most common platforms, but you may want to provide remote teams with phones or pay their cell phone service costs for them. Both physical tools and software are important and should be a consideration. Managing their devices makes it easier to manage the team overall.

Traveling Both Ways

Face it, if you expand globally, you will be doing more travel, and you may want to bring in your remote employees from time to time, or like Buffer, have some kind of annual gathering.

While video meetings and chat are good, there is something to be said for meeting face to face. There are many ways to manage your international business travel, from rewards cards to mileage programs, and rewards programs can save you substantial money, especially when traveling abroad. Don’t be afraid to bring employees to you too, for annual reviews or other special events. Make this a positive experience for them, and use the time to connect and build a deeper relationship.

Global management and handling an international workforce comes with a number of challenges, but in the end, the diversity, the relationships you develop, and the broader presence of your company will be worth all of the work.