Five tips for leading hybrid teams

Great leaders are not responsible for the work, they are responsible for the people who are responsible for the work.

Become the leader that you would like to have.

Leading a team is not an easy task. Many people suffer daily from leaders who fail to make their teams work. Why it happens? It has to do with the way professional development is managed in organizations.

When you are a junior your main responsibility is to do your job well. You get paid and valued for how well you do. And your company invests a lot in your training, precisely so that you can do it even better. Over time someone proposes you to promote to a position in which you become responsible for people who do the work that until then you did. But no one has taught you how to do that. You become a boss, but you are not a leader yet. You have not made the transition and you tend to get involved in what you feel strong in, which is nothing other than what has made you promote. And right at that moment you start to practice micromanagement. Many HR managers must be familiar with this script ...

The most important challenge in becoming a good leader is to start assuming that you are no longer responsible for the work, you are now responsible for the people who are responsible for the work. The focus should be on taking care of those in your charge. It is a transition that can take more or less time. Some never get to do it, and inevitably fall into the so-called Peter Principle.

So far the difficulties of assuming the role of leader. But if the teams do not share physical spaces, the quantitative possibilities of maintaining contact with them is reduced. And the difficulty increases.

Here are some tips, from my experience, to lead high performance teams remotely:

FIRST.- It transmits the purpose of the team and clarifies its objectives.

Many leaders are very good at telling their teams what to do and how to do it. It's about assigning tasks and following established procedures. It is logical, but if you stay in that part of the management of your responsibility as a leader, it will be very difficult for your team to connect with something greater. Something that transcends your day to day. One of the most important responsibilities is that, as a leader, you explain very well what is the purpose of your team and of each of the people that make it up. When I speak of purpose, I mean the answer to a single question: Why do we do what we do?

Therefore, start by sharing with your team the purpose of what you do and leave the details of the procedures and tasks for later. If you do it like this you will achieve higher levels of 'engagement'. You will go from connecting with your limbic brain instead of your neocortex. You will go on to connect with their emotional side instead of their rational side. If you believe in that purpose (because it makes sense to you), your team will probably believe in what you believe.

Once your purpose is communicated, be sure to set very clear goals that everyone understands in the initial stage. An essential characteristic of remote or hybrid teams is that the levels of supervision decline over time, so it is important that they understand the objective at the beginning of the journey. You put the gas, and let them drive ...

SECOND.- Build interpersonal trust.

Trust is the foundation of all team management, and hybrid work environments make you have to build it by providing an extra proactivity. You need people to maintain personal connections in the distance, the basis for maintaining trust. Without personal connection there is no trust. The distance between people does not help them connect. You must serve as a catalyst for those connections. Become the synapses of those neurons that are the members of your team.

You will need to exercise your leadership so that people feel safe to raise their hands and acknowledge when they make a mistake. Or feel confident to tell you that they have a problem at home and that it is affecting their work. Or that they need more training for a new responsibility, of which they do not have enough knowledge. If you don't build trustworthy teams, you could end up with a group of people who show up for work every day lying, hiding, and pretending. They will hide mistakes for fear of getting into trouble. They will not admit that they do not know what they are doing for fear of being humiliated. Remember: The most important question you can ask yourself as a leader is not whether you trust your team, but whether your team trusts you.

THIRD.- Communicate with predictability.

Poorly managed remote computers tend to have unpredictable communication patterns. Often just one or two people account for the majority of communications. The rest remain crouched, waiting for news. In well-managed teams, communications are regular and predictable. It is a rule that you must take into account, because, I repeat once again, distance makes spontaneous communication difficult. This is not to say that it is more difficult to communicate in these types of environments. It simply has to be planned, and the leader is primarily responsible for that planning. It is not too difficult to plan a meeting agenda six months ahead, and stick to it. Do it!

Another cause of this necessary predictability is that team members have to be aware that everyone has to know when to be accessible and when to be inaccessible. Encourage digital disconnection and make sure no one wonders why someone had not responded to a message.

FOURTH.- Develop based on strengths, not weaknesses.

Just think about how performance appraisal normally works: Gaps between ideal and actual behaviors are identified, and feedback is given from time to time. Thanks to the feedback, the employee gets an idea of ​​where he is failing and then begins to think about making improvements. It's true that feedback sometimes covers strengths, but none of us escapes negative bias, or fidgeting with negative information, thoughts, emotions, and experiences tend to leave a more lasting impression on us. But the truth is that we almost always improve faster in those areas where we are strong than in those where we are weak.

Do not turn your team into a school classroom where the requirement is set according to the students less willing to learn. Because the most talented will get bored and end up looking for another school that better meets their expectations.

FIFTH.- Share and rotate power

I know this sounds strange. Pronounced hierarchies have been linked to lower job satisfaction and motivation. Also with the reduction of loyalty and an increase in stress and anxiety. In a hybrid work environment this is accentuated. And it is costly and ineffective ...

Not long ago I asked a person about the main difference between traditional work and the hybrid, distributed and project work we had created. And his answer was very illustrative: 'Before I managed teams where all the components depended hierarchically on me. She attended meetings where everyone depended on who called them. Now, less than 20% of the people on my project teams hierarchically depend on me and I attend meetings where the person calling them is not my boss, nor the boss of most of those who attend. Before I did few things many times, now I do many things rarely. ' I couldn't explain it better.

In a traditional workplace, teams are usually led by one person. But in a virtual environment, a centralized power structure is actually less effective. The power of high-trust teams actually changes between members depending on the stage of the project. Again it is a question of trust. Thus, you must assign responsibilities based on the specialty of the aspects to be managed, beyond the hierarchy. Don't forget to allow decisions to be made at the lowest possible level and above all, don't meddle. Remember that at the end of the day great leaders are not responsible for the work, they are responsible for the people who are responsible for the work.

Become Edward Teach.

Better known as Blackbeard. We generally associate pirates with violence, theft, and mayhem. Despite the legend, pirate ships during their golden age (17th century) managed their teams in surprising ways. They practiced a revolutionary form of democracy. To keep the ship running smoothly and discourage revolt, they elected their captain democratically. They limited their power and guaranteed crew members a voice in ship's affairs. The captain and the crew voted on all relevant aspects, where to go, who to rob, the fate of the prisoners... With enough votes, the crew could demote or even fire the captain.

Any pirate could make complaints or proposals without fear of retaliation, as the crew members were protected by the 'articles' - a kind of constitution drawn up for each ship. These ‘articles’ were formed democratically and required unanimous agreement. Saving the distances, it is not that far from what we advise now for the management of remote teams.

Relax and enjoy.

Remember: you are no longer responsible for the work, now you are responsible for the people who are responsible for the work. That means that when everything is good you have to give all the prominence to your team, but when everything goes wrong you have to take full responsibility. Is not easy. The trick is to practice every moment, every day. Leadership is a skill like any other. If you practice it every day, you will be a strong leader. If you stop practicing it, you become a weak leader.

Skills that you need to become a successful entrepreneur

In this fourth Industrial Revolution, the changes will be exponentially faster. In this context, according to “The Future of Jobs” Report, from World Economic Forum, in many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago. The pace of change is set to accelerate. Now, we are seeing developments in technology (genetics, AI, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, biotechnology, etc.) that just a few years ago seemed impossible.

This new reality will radically affect our professions and if you want to undertake entrepreneurial projects , you should develop an emerging skills set:

  • Active listening: In the age of hyper-communication, it’s essential to remain aware of the messages of the business environment. An excellent entrepreneur is one who understands that listening is more important than speaking.
  • Innovative spirit: Being “the best" is a subjective concept, being "the first" is an objective concept. It’s even more important for companies to act with agility. So, the entrepreneur who is open to innovation will have more opportunities for success.
    Strategic Planning: New technologies and intensive use of social media have affected the planning skills of millennials. However, in the business world, keeping personal spaces for plans enable better skills for improvisation and prevents difficulties in the future.
    Impact and influence: In today's world, companies, products and services are advertised by pulling at the heartstrings. The entrepreneur who is able to persuade using emotion will have a clear competitive advantage.
  • Networking: The concept of business community is invading management. Individualism is in decline because the ‘Knowledge Age’ requires professionals who can connect, share and work with other professionals. So, sharing knowledge helps to gain experience to grow and develop.
  • Sustainability: This is a key concept as we live in ephemeral age. However, the entrepreneur must have a goal (the project must be durable) and must consider how sustainable the project is.

These tips could help to start or develop an entrepreneurial business and make them a success story.

5 ideas to achieve a high-performance team

Team leadership is the key challenge for a manager. Everyone knows that results are achieved through people management but not all pay the necessary attention to the parts that form the pillars on which a  rests.

Here are five things that should focus the manager’s attention:

  • Clarify the mission. The mission of a team is the set of general objectives and operational principles that govern it. The first thing that the team members must know is why they have been hired and what strategy needs to be developed. This allows them to take decisions, to establish objectives and carry out tasks, thus achieving coherence and coordination.
  • Manage team commitment. Commitment is the “Holy Grail” of management, the intangible element that each manager pursues as the pillar of commitment. The commitment to the mission reflects the intellectual and emotional involvement of the team and their personal contribution to success. How do you develop a committed team? By maintaining a continuous regarding for the calendar of the execution of the projects, giving and receiving permanent feedback and generating an environment of trust. These are the three basic elements which a manager must pay attention to. Commitment is a true performance enhancer.
  • Maximize performance. Agility, team spirit and creativity are three key management skills in the 4th Industrial Revolution. These skills should be included in every performance evaluation. An agile team is one that is able to detect and respond to change quickly and confidently. According to the MIT Sloan Business School, an agile company produces 30% more profit and also takes 37% faster decisions. The popularization of the agile movement (Agile), born in 2001, has promoted the dynamization of the methodology of ‘ultra light methods’, emphasizing the joint approach and creativity of team members. This is the ‘team performance new framework’.
  • Managing projects. Once companies accept that the management by processes is a requirement, it is necessary that agility and creativity turns into the effective management of projects. To achieve this, the manager must not only take note of the phases and monitor achievement at corresponding deadlines, but also learn and apply the latest techniques to make the team develop in a creative and agile way. Therefore, design-thinking, collective storyboarding, ‘Brain-Writing’ or ‘group sketching’ are strategies that allow proper management of project development.
  • Taking care of work environment. This is an issue that is not always given the attention that it really needs. The physical workplace is a fundamental component of the team’s environment that has a great impact on their performance. However, not all managers pay the necessary attention to these elements. They should not forget that ergonomic workplaces and welfare policies contribute to commitment and performance, and have a fundamental impact on the achievement of results. It doesn’t matter if the work is carried out in large corporate offices, in a coworking space or at home of the team members; It’s essential that the professional feels comfortable and the space serves to encourage their creativity. If you need more information about how to achieve a healthy company you can read the post ‘Practical tips for achieving a healthy company’.

If the manager pays attention to the five elements above, he/she will have better possibilities of laying the groundwork for a high-performance team. By maintaining focus on the team constantly, should be part of the managers permanent agenda.

How to encourage creativity in your team

Creativity is not the same as innovation. Creativity is the ability to come up with new ideas or concepts, or new associations between ideas and known concepts. These usually produce original solutions. Innovation is applied creativity, which translates into new products, services or procedures, and have successful applications. In short, as Xavier Marcet says,' Innovation is about putting the future on the agenda of the present'.

Therefore, when in a company or team we get a creative environment that it turn into innovation, we get a clear competitive edge: Innovative creativity.

Here are some formulas to promote innovative creativity in your company:

1.- Keep an open mind to the “new”. Business creativity requires a leader who looks for alternatives to existing situations (reactive creativity) or formulates solutions to problems that may come up in the future (predictive creativity). The creative leader is one who is able to question everything, noting improvement areas, new trends, attending networking sessions of the sector, and understanding the need to be a technology enhancer.

2.- Organize your company in a multidisciplinary and transversal way. Regardless of your company has three or three thousand employees, functional silos are one of the most serious barriers to a creative organization. While each member of the team needs to have a specific role, they should be open to sharing tasks with their colleagues.

3.- Encourage debate and networking. Innovation processes must be open and inclusive. Meetings should have the following characteristics:

  • From the outset, the general objectives and deliverables must be set out.
  • Be composed of diverse groups that can bring different sensitivities and points-of-view.
  • Lack hierarchy or bureaucracy (peer-to-peer). The leader must remain attentive, recognizing the effort and the contributions, whatever right or wrongs.
  • At the end, a summary should be established with the conclusions and date of the next meeting. To achieve the necessary agility, maybe better-organized and shorter meetings.

4.- Listen to your stakeholders and pay attention to the customer experience. Most companies simply listen to the customer's voice. Creative companies have been able to determine their interest groups and initiate formulas that allow them to be attentive to their opinions. In order to achieve this, they try to use customer feedback in order to help in the reengineering of their products (often using design thinking, which has gone from design to management, with great results).

5.- Place your company in an open working environment. Creativity does not spring up in gray environments, cubicles or closed offices, nor in front of a spreadsheet. Creative companies are organized around open spaces (even in co-working, where there is the possibility of networking with colleagues from other sectors). They also try to maintain meeting spaces where attendees can express themselves with a coffee cup or a whiteboard. In addition, they have relaxation spaces where they can reflect, with well-being and healthy living policies. You can read more about it in our post 'Practical tips for getting a healthy company'

In short, innovative creativity is an attitude that, when properly utilized, can be turned into new products, services and processes that generate a competitive edge.

5 Causes that can ruin your business and how to avoid it

The new post-crisis era has managed to become an ecosystem generator of opportunities in key business projects. In this post we explain the five main causes why your business may fail, which are applicable whether you are an entrepreneur or a project manager in a large company.

The desire to build a new business project doesn’t always means success, and even less so on the first attempt. In fact, 50% of business projects fail before reaching their first birthday. Being an entrepreneur is exciting, but very hard. In any case, failure can be an opportunity for improvement and is often the seed of future success.

Among the main causes of early failure for business projects, we see:

  1. Deficit of conceptualization: First of all you must have clear vision of where you want to go and the four or five goals you want to achieve. Write them down, organize meetings with stakeholders and try to readapt that vision based on the feedback you receive. Often, the project begins to fail at its firt stage, because it is not sufficiently novel or different from what the market offers or because it is not possible to put the focus on the real needs of the potential clients. In order to avoid this, you have to involve your potential clients in this phase of the project. A useful tool is to employ the "design thinking" methodology.
  2. Lack of methodology: Remember that organizing the steps to follow and keeping track of them should be one of your main priorities. This way you can identify if expectations and deadlines are being met and where more resources are needed to complete them. In the modern management of projects there is a concept that stands out above the others: Agility. As Xavier Marcet says, "Agility is looking for shortcuts responsibly, using automatisms and simplifications that allow us to move faster without violating the essence that inspired the processes." To achieve this you can use agile methodologies (Scrum, Kanban, DevOps, etc.).
  3. Team selection: To achieve your business goals, you must choose partners with interests and expectations aligned with yours. Remember that all the people who make up your team must have the responsibility to ensure that the project will be successful.
    As a manager, the coordination of human capital should be your priority, because it will directly affect the result. To do this, don’t forget to use adequate levels of delegation, active listening and shared knowledge management with all members of your team. You can read more about this subject in our post ‘Five ideas to achieve a high-performance team’
  4. An underestimation of resources. It’s essential that the associated cost estimates be realistic from the outset. As you know, when the economic resources are depleted, the project stops. To prevent this, it is necessary to keep track of expenses and be very active in the search for financing. Remember that as sources of funding you can turn to the traditional credit market or turn to increasingly active alternative sources. In this sense, crowdleanding, crowdfunding or business angels can be very suitable formulas. And do not forget to ask for help from different public agencies promoting entrepreneurship or the capitalization of subsidies (such as unemployment).
  5. Not enough importance given to marketing and sales plan. Leveraging your marketing strategy solely on word-of-mouth may be sufficient during the first weeks or months, but there needs to be an efficient and innovative strategy to get more clients and ensure the project makes money. But you will need an efficient and innovative strategy to have more clients and guarantee the solvency of the project. Adopt an inbound marketing strategy as part of the project and you will ensure an adequate integration of the marketing plan into the project's own strategy.In short, just being creative with a great idea is no guarantee of success for the business project. Most of the time, business success depends on your personal skills. The good news is that skills can be developed, so the challenge is to consolidate the appropriate level and adapted to the business environment.

Practical tips for getting a healthy company

In the most forward-looking companies, the promotion of well-being at work is an urgent task based in two objectives: to have healthier employees and to improve their competitiveness. If you are a forward-looking company, in this post we are going to give you some practical tips so that you can implement a healthy company culture.

Until a few years ago, some companies still belived that complying with health and safety regulations was all they had to do to create a healthy work enviroment. Today, no one doubts that healthy employees are more productive than unhealthy ones, and have less absenteeism. Thus, well-being at work has also become a vital weapon in the battle for talent.

Definitely, well-being in the workplace is a good business strategy. But many entrepreneurs and managers ask us about active well-being results in the medium-term. It’s not an easy task because there are multiple factors affecting health and the chances of impacting on them are limited. However, from our experience, below you will find some of the secrets to make your company healthier.

1.- Take on interest in the health of your employees and study the data. Start by developing a demographic study of your staff (age, gender, time with the company, etc.). This way you can see the most common illnesses among your workforce. And so, you will know what diseases your employees have and you will have a base to start working with. Other reports to take into account are the Epidemiological Study (result of the health check-ups) and the Study of Psychosocial Risks (analysis that you should have from time to time).
Furthermore, or if your company is very small and you don’t want to invest too much time, you can use a very simple formula: carry out an anonymous survey regarding on those health aspects that each employee would be interested in improving.

2.- Design and implement promoting healthy campaigns. This should be aimed at the most frequent complaints and which will benefit the largest number of employees. Campaigns must be oriented to the needs of your employees. Here are some guidelines with three very common examples:

A) Bone, joints and muscle complaints. Even today the complaints related to lower back pain are the most common. In order to prevent them, it’s recomended to take an approach to aspects of posture, depending on the sector in which you operate. There are training materials and information brochures from well-known organizations on the Internet that, with very little effort, you can adapt to your company.
B) Cardiovascular complaints: Sedentarism is a huge problem in the organizations and some research has identified the workplace as one of the main environments where sedentary behavior occurs (where on average we spend five hours and forty-one minutes seated). For the correct approach you must know how overweight your workforce is, acording to the BMI (Body Mass Index). If you have sedentary jobs and a workforce that is overweight, you should get to work as quick as possible. Here are two types of campaigns:

  • Promoting exercice. Encourage your employees to cycle to work, put up signs for people to use the stairs, organize sports competitions with other companies or sgn up Health Apps, etc.
  • Healthy nutrition. You should get rid of unhealthy food from your offices (something very common if you have vending machines). It’s also advisable to publish guidelines for healthier eating with healthy recipes and even employees competitions.

C) Psychological complains: Although they’re not the most numerous, they are the ones that can lasts longest (behind cancer). It’s difficult for doctors to determine when someone is better.

3.- Encourage employees to talk about health. You shoud involve managers, middle managers, unions and groups of employees with similar issues. Top management or management guidelines are, of course, fundamental, but we often forget that middle managers are key on delivering policy. Many large and medium-sized companies ask us to help them convince their managers to buy-in to the whole culture of well-being. Moreover, these types of policies encourage better employer branding, which is very important to attract best talent. In this regard there are ways to gain a reputation, such as qualifying for external certification or signing up to the Luxembourg Declaration. And don’t forget to create a scorecard that can monitor the level of progress in this area.

4.- Design workspaces that encourage healthy habits. The concept of the open office is not new but it’s necessary if you want to implement cooperation among teams. Keep in mind that office walls are falling and hierarchies have become flatter in every sector. This is not a fad but the right way to get work better together. Value added services for the employees increase their commitment. Therefore, private rooms, telephone booths, rest areas, coffee corners, etc., help reenforce in the idea of the company as a social unit. You can learn by reading the Steelcase report "The Compromise and Global Workspace" or Deloitte's "The Digital Workplace".

Implementing work well-being policies is simply a good business strategy that reduces absenteeism and increases productivity. More and more convinced of this new reality For example, the National Institute of Health and Safety in Spain has changed its name to become the National Institute of Safety, Health and Welfare at Work. Royal Decree 703/2017, of July 7, which regulates this change of name states that it is done in order to 'adapt it to the demand of a society increasingly more sensitive and demanding with safety and health at work as a fundamental part of the social welfare'.

On the other hand, mutuals collaborating with Social Security in Spain have ample experience in advising companies on prevention. You can learn more about this by visiting Asepeyo's microsite, about managing absenteeism.

Welcome to the eadge of the healthy workplace!

3 key ideas to get high impact presentations

One of the most delicate situations that a professional has to face is the realization of an. From my personal experience, here are some suggestions for your presentation to have high impact and effectiveness.

1.- Preparing the presentation. This is a crucial step, which is not always given enough importance. You must create unique content for each audience, demonstrating that you know the sector to which the majority of listeners belong. This way you'll get their attention and will put across the feeling that their content has been specially designed for them.

  • Set out the key idea. This has to be explained concisely, between 30 and 60 seconds. From there, you should be able to conceptualize the secondary ideas.
  • Structure the presentation with intro, middle and conclusion. The intro should serve to make the objectives clear. The middle is the body and the conclusion is the summary. Don’t forget that many presentations fail because they start out with the middle (the audience hasn’t no clear objectives and have to find them out in the course of the presentation) or forget the conclusion (and the story has no ending).
  • Look for an attractive tittle. It is very important, especially if you need to get the attention of the audience. It must be direct and able to express the content in up to ten words. If it is not possible to do it, it’s best to accompany it with a subtitle.

2.- Designing the presentation. When preparing the graphic support for our presentation we must take into account that it must be simple and visual. Attendees either read or listen, but it is very difficult to do both at the same time.

  • First write down what you want to convey. Choose an idea per slide, staying away from bullet points or multiple ideas.
  • There is life beyond PowerPoint. And Ignacio Santiago shows us in his post "15 Online Tools to Create Professional Presentations".
  • Choose visual metaphors. Look for pictures that represent the message that you want to convey with each idea. Be careful not to infringe intellectual property with the chosen images.
  • Use neutral backgrounds, sans sarif fonts (arial or verdana, preferably) and do not mix fonts. Highlight key ideas with bold or different size or color (avoid underlining). Do not use animations.

3.- Delivering presentation. The moment of truth has come, when your work has its moment.

  • Try to entertain the audience. The success of the presentation depends largely on awaking their emotions, making them feel and getting them excited about the topic.
  • Rehearse, but do not allow your presentation to lose its spontaneity. In my experience it is important to practice two key points: the first and the last sentence. The first is important to capture the attention of the audience and must convey security, energy and commitment to what you are going to talk about. With the last the audience can draw conclusions from the presentation.
  • Ask for feedback several times during the presentation. Consider that one of the most important elements in capturing the attention of the audience is to ask them several times if they have understood the message expressed
  • Study your body language. Experts agree that personal communication influences both what is said and what is transmitted without words. It is very important to use gestures and postures that strengthen the message, avoiding those that may be considered aggressive. If you want to learn anything about this aspect you can read Flora Davis's book "Non-Verbal Communication".

Finally, remember that the presentation doesn’t end with the last sentence. Ask for feedback from the attendees (direct or through surveys) or to point out feelings and aspects that you could correct. This will help you generate areas for improvement on which to work for the next presentation.