Doors Open - Blog - Hoe bouw je een goed virtueel team

It’s almost hard to believe that one year ago we wrote a blog post on a similar topic, yet as we write this one the circumstances and situation are much different. When Doors Open visited Norway in February 2019 to mentor a newly formed team, with members spread over four countries, we had the chance to prepare the team for the challenges of working virtually. In 2020 many teams will not have been able to prepare themselves for this properly, but rather thrown into this situation suddenly and abruptly due to the disruption that Covid-19 has brought in all of our lives.
While we are all very fortunate and grateful to be able to work from home, this does not mean it does not bring some new challenges for you as a leader and for your team. Less communication, less visibility and accountability and increased complexity make virtual working a struggle even without the uncertainty we all currently face. So, how can you as a leader manage your team while working virtually? And more importantly, where do you start?

To begin with, lets define the term “virtual working”. In her book “Virtual Leadership” Dr. Penny Pullan defines it as

Work done by people who are geographically distributed, working together despite the fact that at least one person is not in the same location as others. Virtual work is supported by communications technology that helps people to connect when far apart.

Since probably everyone in your team is working from home now, not even one person is the same location as the others. This means you will have to give the three points we mentioned earlier (communication, invisibility and complexity) even more attention.

#1 Complexity

It is important to start with this crucial aspect. Make a list of everyone in your team, and note down their cultural background, native language, access to technology, homelife situation (living alone, housemates, with children…) and if they went back to their home country then also the time difference. These are all potential barriers that you want to address to make working remotely as effective and productive as possible. Be aware of every person’s situation and needs, and make a plan on how you can best work around time zones or people who now have to take care of their children at home. Give people in your team who have a different native language more time to process and respond as audio quality and lack of body language cues might make it more difficult for them to understand your message. You can ask your team members to create a “Way We Work” document which outlines the needs and homelife situation of each person, and together as a team they can come up with solutions, guidelines and new norms as a team. Also, most likely you will have some more introverted and some more extroverted people on your team, so make sure you actively invite and give the former the opportunity to speak. Check out this TED talk below by Susan Cain on why people who are more introverted are also very important!

 

 

 #2 Communication

Or rather, the lack of effective communication. As 93% of what and how we communicate is non-verbal, you now need to be especially aware of what your team members are saying in order to avoid misunderstandings. To make communicating with your team effective, choose the right times and technology. Within our team we use video-calling apps like Zoom and this allows us to set a meeting timer to ensure that our meetings stay short and to the point. Try to keep email communication to a minimum, rather keep it to your virtual meetings or if you have a quick question use Slack to send that person a message. At Doors Open we also use Slack to communicate under specific channels, making it easier for us to track down what somebody said.

 

Be sure to check out Trello, Zoom, Basecamp and more. There are soo many great tools out there – make use of them!

Make sure all employees have access to Trello or any other project management application for that matter so that everyone in your team knows what needs to happen for which projects. However, applications like these are not just there to provide overview but are also a visual representation of your team’s successes. It is important to celebrate these successes just as you would normally, so take the time during visual meetings to congratulate and praise your team members. Lastly, give people constructive feedback by scheduling individual video-meetings and actively ask for feedback yourself. This is truly the best way for you to learn. You can read more about tips on how to give and receive feedback here.

#3 Invisibility

It is no secret that physical proximity makes working together more efficient. Working remotely induces a certain lack of accountability as you are not able to see what your employees are doing with your own eyes. To combat this, create a sense of trust in the team. Within our team we make sure to check in with each other often and let each other know that we are here for one another. Take five minutes during each virtual briefing and encourage your team to share their emotions or worries and together come up with a solution. Another important aspect to incorporate are routine check-in times with your team via a video call for example. Set two or three specific times every day that you meet with your team where you can see how everyone is feeling (this also helps to create trust) and where they can update each other on their tasks. Lastly, you may have heard the phrase “Shared responsibility is no responsibility”, so make sure you set up one person responsible for each project as this will make them feel more accountable.

Pro Tip: Write down who is responsible for which project or task and share that information with your team through a cloud based technology!

It is no doubt that even well-prepared teams would find working virtually a challenge, let alone teams that have suddenly been thrust into this headfirst. However, as it will most likely be some time before we can return to our offices and physical team meetings it is important for all of us to adapt to this new way of working. Luckily, we as humans can be pretty good at adapting quickly to new situations and routines when pushed. So take the time to reflect on the various points we mentioned and give your team a gentle nudge into this new way of working. As a team we know how difficult and overwhelming it can be come up with your own solutions during a crisis situation, so try out a few things that worked for us like the Way We Work document, the daily check-ins or the various technology tools!

Do you have any other tips for us on how to make virtual working successful? Let us know in the comments below!

Top redenen waarom medewerkers ontslag nemen

Monday morning. The delicious aroma of your first cup of coffee greets you. You open your laptop. Then you hear a soft knock on your open door. You look up and there he is. Your best team member. Your superstar. You hired him 5 months ago. “Do you have a minute?” he asks with a serious look on his face. Half an hour later, completely in shock, you take a sip of your now cold coffee. You don’t understand. How did you not see this coming?  

Every manager has had to deal with it: employees that quit. It’s part of the job. It’s actually good for a company when people leave. It makes room for new people. Fresh ideas, innovation, and different points of view. But what if your top employees leave one after the other? Or if employees that started 6 months ago already leave? That’s a different story.

Why do employees quit?

Doors Open - Onboarding - zorg dat nieuwe medewerkers blijven

There are very few employees who just up and leave from one day to the next. Days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years precede. This means that your company also has days, weeks, months and sometimes even years to prevent this. So why is it that retaining good employees is so difficult?

More than 10 years of experience within small and large organisations has shown that there are a lot of different reasons:

Poor leadership

“People don’t leave a bad job. They leave bad leaders.” We hear this frequently. And it’s true. Good leaders are able to make their people grow, to help them bring out the best in themselves. Poor leaders, on the other hand, manage to turn motivated, hardworking employees into pale, uninspired robots that count down the minutes until they can go home and that use their lunch breaks to scroll through vacancies for a better alternative. 

Research done by LinkedIn showed that 41% of people named poor management as a reason voor accepting another job.

Management is not about being there for a couple of important moments. You just aren’t going to cut it with a performance interview, an appraisal interview and an end-of-year bonus. Employees aren’t machines. Invest time in them. Get to know them. Know what motivates them. Good leadership can make or break the retention of valuable employees.

There is no challenge

Ongemotiveerde medewerker - Doors OpenDo you know what keeps your employees inspired? What challenges them? This is definitely not the same for everyone. As surprising as it may sound, not every team member is looking for a promotion. Not everyone dreams of being in a leadership role themselves. And that’s ok. It’s important that every employee gets the chance to develop in his/her own way. Whether that’s through a promotion or a new challenge within the current position. A good Learning & Development programma is essential for this. 

There is not a good onboarding programme

Did you know that 20% of employees leave the company within 45 days? And that no less than 1 out of 3 people leaves within the first year?

A high turnover rate is incredibly expensive. Replacing an employee costs 50-150% of an annual salary. Additionally, the constant change of employees causes demotivation among the remaining team members. Because how do you form a good team if there’s constantly new faces?

Doors Open - Onboarding programma voor nieuwe medewerkers

A programme for new employees (also called an onboarding programme) makes the difference. And no, this isn’t about “you can get your coffee here and here’s the printer.” An onboarding programme ensures that a successful candidate turns into a successful employee within 90 days by showing them the culture of the organisation and by offering them a future perspective. By setting goals, clarifying expectations and creating a personal development plan.

Investing in a good onboarding programme reduces staff turnover by as much as 54%.

What do you think? Shall we have a cup of coffee together to talk about your staff retention? I promise you your coffee won’t get cold!

Have you ever been part of a team where it just felt like you never managed to get anything done? Where projects were endless and where week after week the motivation of the team members was decreasing? I have. More than once even: dysfunctional teams are more common than you think, both in small and large organisations. It leads to frustration, causes tension and decreases performance. Eventually everyone benefits from a team that functions well. But, to get teams to function, you first have to know why they don’t work. There are 5 primary reasons why teams fail.

#1 – Poor leadership

It’s easy to give the leader of the group the blame, isn’t it? But it does really start here. If the leader fails, the team will fail. It’s that simple. That is why football coaches often get fired when the team performance is disappointing. That is why research shows, time and again, that the manager can be an important reason why people change jobs. LinkedIn asked 10,000 people that recently quit a job, the reason why. At least 41% said leadership was the motive.

“Then we can just switch to autonomous teams, right?” is a question I regularly hear when I get asked by a company to help their teams function properly. Autonomous or self-steering teams are teams where there doesn’t appear to be a leader. But appearances are deceiving. Especially in autonomous teams there is a leader. But one that trusts team members to be independent.

Compare it to a bee colony. It really doesn’t function without the queen bee. Yet most bees fly in and out without saying where they are going. This is perfect leadership, the queen enables everyone to do his/her work. Good leadership is the basis for the proper functioning of a team and vice versa, failing leadership guarantees a team that does not work.

Tip! In this very inspirational video Simon Sinek shows why leadership that gives trust is so important.

 

Bonus: download my free workbook 5 steps to leadership that creates trust” I have created this workbook that I use weekly during leadership trajectories.

#2 – A lack of common interest

Not everyone comes to work with the same goal. For one person it’s about earning money, for the other it’s about developing themselves intellectually, whilst the third wants to feel useful. For most people, individual interests are easy to identify. It is the lack of common interest that causes teams to fail.

Although it is not necessary that all individual interests are the same, it is important that there is a shared goal that is worked towards. And yes, that is also a leader’s task: the creation and carrying out the vision, the “why are we doing this?”, so that everyone going in the same direction. However, this certainly does not mean ‘imposing’ the vision. In the 10 years that I have been assisting organisation, I have experienced that involving team members in determining the vision and common interest works really well. This creates support. Ultimately the leader is the one to make the final decision, but the common interest is decided on together.

By the way, individual interest is never put above the common interest in a properly functioning team. That leads to unhealthy competition (point 4 in this list!)

#3 – Avoidance

Doors Open Teambuilding en Coaching Den Haag

“What Sara just said was completely ridiculous, wasn’t it? She really doesn’t get it.” I heard two of my former colleagues talking about a team member after a team meeting. In these 14 words, 2 things went wrong:

  • There is no open communication with Sara. If you don’t tell Sara why you don’t agree with her, how is Sara supposed to know? I’m yet to meet a person who can read minds. We often keep our opinions to ourselves, out of fear that we will hurt someone, or because we are scared that the other person will get angry. But precisely by not giving feedback there are often larger conflicts in the long term that are more difficult to solve.
  • The feedback, even if Sara had heard it, is far from constructive. How would you feel is someone said to you: “What you just said is ridiculous. You really don’t get it.” If feedback is given (and received) in the right way, it is very valuable. Bad feedback or the lack of feedback, decreases individual as well as team performance.

Tip! Did you know that feedFORWARD is even more effective than feedBACK? I regularly go to companies to train teams about this topic and you often already see a change within 1 day.

 #4 – Competition

Environments with fierce competition create aggression, disfunction and waste. The best way to show this is in this video by Margaret Heffernan, where she takes you into the world of… chickens.

 

 

 

 

I am very much convinced, especially in the long term that fierce competition within teams does not lead to the best performance. Even though, according to research, Amazon is one of the best places to work, this article in the New York Times created some upheaval.  

Former employees at Amazon said the following:

“Work comes first, life comes second, and trying to find the balance comes last.”

“Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

“When you’re not able to able to give it your absolute all, 80 hours a week, they see it as a major weakness.”

#5 – Misunderstanding others

Carefully look at the image below. How many beams do you see?

Doors Open Teambuilding en coaching Den Haag

Within teams there is often little to no understanding of the perspective of others or their personalities. We are so focused on ourselves and believe our opinion and personalities to be the only truth. Through this we become blind to other perspectives or personalities. This doesn’t only lead to tunnel vision, which causes us to miss opportunities, it also causes misunderstandings and conflicts within a team. A well-functioning team is open to the perspective and behaviour of other team members and tries to understand why someone behaves in a certain way has that point of view.

In order to understand your team members better, a personality profile is an excellent starting point. I often use the Lumina Profile sketch during my training sessions or coaching programmes for teams. With this, you get more insight into your behaviour and your own personality. Improved insights into your own behaviour is essential in enabling you to better empathize with others.

Secret reason #6: Lack of attention

A good team is not formed from one day to the next. It takes time. And attention.

With the hustle of daily routine, building a strong team is often forgotten, even though that is the foundation for your organisation. Even if you have a team that DOES work well, it is important that it stays that way. Or even improves.

Could you use a sparring partner for your team? Do you want to create a strong team? Read more about what Doors Open can do for you.

Doors Open Female hub Suzanne Mau-Asam Somatic Coaching

“That’s just the way I am.” Is there anyone in your surroundings that has never said this before? I still need to meet that unique person that hasn’t. Even “that is so typical of Nicole” is said by everyone I know every once in a while.

We often respond in the same way in specific situations. In the case of a setback, one person reacts with anger, the other cries and the third person will withdraw from the situation and will ignore the world around them. The way you react is usually not a conscious choice and also not always how you would hope you would react. Afterwards you think, “if only I had..” But then right after that you also also think, “but that is who I am, and I can’t change anything about it.” Right? No, that is not completely true. In this article I will explain why.

Your reaction is perhaps subconscious and automatic, but it wasn’t always like that. Your response has become automatic over time. In order to understand how this happens, I will use a little bit of neuroscience. Oh and highways and dirt roads.

What do highways and dirt roads have to do with the brain?

The formation of a habit or automatic response in the brain, works by strengthening a connection between neurons. Neurons are brain cells that are all connected with each other, but some connections are stronger than others. You can compare this to highways and dirt roads.

In the beginning villages were connected with each other through small, uneven dirt roads that went through the fields. The road that is taken most often, keeps getting wider and easier to travel on. Slowly this small road changes into a highway. When a highway is created, the dirt roads between the villages are taken less frequently. Because even though the distance might be greater, you’ll get there faster by taking the highway.

The development of automatic behaviour is comparable. The reaction that is shown most often in a certain situation makes this connection between neurons stronger. For example, if you have often experienced that the smell of fresh croissants goes hand in hand with a relaxed and pleasant Sunday morning, a smile will naturally appear on your face when you smell croissants. If you have experienced several times that you can get things done by raising your voice, you will continue to do this more often. After a while you don’t even think about it anymore, you do it automatically.

“This time I will really do it differently”

Great, you now have a bit of a better understanding of how automatic behaviour arises. That the smell of croissants makes you smile is not a problem of course, but other automatic behaviour can stand in the way of yourself and/or others. And that is exactly the type of behaviour that is not easy to change. Have a think about it. How often have you heard yourself say: “this time I will really do it differently.” You start full of good intentions. You keep it up for 1 or 2 weeks, maybe even a few months. But eventually you fall back into your old behaviour. Especially when the pressure is high.

Doors Open Female hub Suzanne Mau-Asam Somatic Coaching 2

That is when somatic coaching can come into play. Traditional coaching is almost always aimed towards IQ (intelligence) and EQ (emotion), and are seen as separate parts. You can definitely achieve good results with this, but it is by far not always enough.

Somatic coaching looks at it differently. The word somatics comes from the Greek word soma, which means ‘the living organism as a whole’. This theory assumes that as a person you do not consist of separate parts, but rather that your body, brain and soul make up one.

One of the characteristics of somatic coaching is that the body is the starting point for a sustainable change in behavior. Take a musician as an example. A pianist can not play well if he is not relaxed. He can know all notes (IQ) and love playing the piano (EQ), but without the third crucial element (SQ) he will not be able to give a fantastic concert.

Connections in your whole body

Somatic coaching assumes that the neuron connections which cause the automatic behaviour, are not only present in the brain but throughout the whole body. Think back to a situation in which you were under a lot of pressure. An important presentation, an appraisal interview or a business deal that almost went south. How did your body feel? Were your shoulders upright or slouching, did you feel your breath quicken, did you have the tendency to cross your arms?

The goal of somatic coaching is to show different behaviour and enabling yourself to show that behaviour even when you’re under pressure or stressed. In a more traditional way of coaching, you brain often understands how to use new or different behaviour but the rest of your nervous system (this visible in your body) does not. Therefore you only tackle one element and that is not sufficient. Moreover, there is more risk of falling back into old behaviour.

This is where somatic coaching comes in. Of course gaining knowledge and insights by talking – just like with traditional coaching – remains important. But this is supported by exercises where you literally have to stand or move, so that you really feel how different behaviour feels. This way you don’t only understand (IQ) the new skill but you also create a different response in your body (SQ).

The construction of new highways

If you look at the metaphor of highways versus dirt roads and you know that neuron connections are not only present in your brain but also in your body, you can see the importance of practicing new behaviour. You are creating a new highway (connection/automatic behaviour).

The first step in somatic coaching is becoming aware of your current posture, movement and response patterns. Which response patterns do you show? You learn to be more in touch with your body. That might sound a bit airy-fairy, but it really isn’t! There are different exercises with which you experience your body’s different reactions. And what that brings up in terms of feeling and emotions. You become aware of the patterns that you have created.

Fake it till you make it?

The importance of how your body and posture can be used to show others that you are, for example, full of confidence – even if you aren’t – is what Amy Cuddy explains in her popular Ted Talk.

 

 

 

 

An interesting term in somatic coaching and also in this talk by Amy, in my opinion, is power posing: even if you aren’t confidence, in the moment that you do stand or move your body in a confident manner, you automatically also feel more confident. Try it! This is a concrete example of how changing your body also eventually leads to a change in feeling and behaviour.

Who is somatic coaching for?

Somatic coaching is extremely valuable for both your personal as well as professional development. If you answer YES to one or more of the following questions, then somatic coaching is interesting for you.

  • Do you have the feeling that you don’t know which choices to make in your personal or professional life?
  • Do you have lots of dreams or ideas, but do you not take action to execute them or make them a reality?
  • Do you want more self-confidence?
  • Do you want to be more assertive?
  • Do you experience (too much) stress and do you want to know how to decrease that?
  • Do you want to show better leadership within your company?
  • Do you want your team to improve performance or collaborate better?

Want to know more?

Do you want to know more about somatic coaching? Contact us! For more information about coaching by Doors Open, have a look at our page about coaching.

Doors Open - Waarom een compliment krijgen zo moeilijk is

Why it’s so difficult to receive compliments – and what you can do about it

“What? This old thing? I’ve had it for years!” I hear myself saying this more often than than I’d like to when I get a compliment about my outfit. Not only about my outfit actually, even professionally I brush compliments off. Even though, I know that I am a good trainer and coach.

When I receive a compliment I feel awkward, sometimes I giggle and I don’t know how to react. Apparently I am not the only one. After asking a few people in my professional and personal network, and it appears that others also find it difficult. Which is a shame. You do not only fail yourself by trivializing a compliment or brushing it off, but also the one who gives the compliment.

How come there are so many people that find it difficult to receive a compliment? I think there are a number of reasons behind this.

#1 – Modesty

We often learn to be modest. Especially in The Netherlands we have a saying “Just act normal, that’s already crazy enough.” By accepting a compliment instead of brushing it off, you may fear that you will come across as pretentious.

#2 – What do you want from me?

Because of insecurities or distrust we think that there is something more behind a compliment. That flattery is used to get something from us. If a sales person in a shop says that those new jeans look fantastic on you, you immediately think it’s because she wants to sell you something. If a family member gives you a compliment and then asks for a favour, you think “Told you so, they didn’t mean it. They did it to manipulate me.”

#3 – You don’t even know me

Who gives the compliment, also influences our reaction. Imagine you are giving a presentation and afterwards someone that you don’t really know comes up to you and says, “Very inspiring. Especially the part where you talked about the importance of personal leadership.” Because you aren’t familiar with the person, it is more difficult to accept the compliment. We often find it easier to accept a compliment from a close friend, colleague or loved one. Although in today’s era of social media it is completely normal to constantly seek compliments from strangers. The compliments, however, are often casual and there is the safety of having a screen between you. Accepting face-to-face compliments remains difficult, especially if it’s from a stranger.

Receiving compliments – this is how it can be done!

By brushing off compliments, you bring yourself down. But have you considered that it also negatively influences the person giving you a compliment? By trivializing it you give the impression that their opinions is incorrect (as you disagree with it) and you can make them feel bad.

The next time you receive a compliment try the following:

#1 – Say “Thank you”

Rule number 1! No matter how awkward it feels, this is the only reaction with which you can’t go wrong. You are happy and the person giving the compliment is happy.

Often it is not the “thank you” that makes the situation awkward, but the silence afterwards. Think: it is not that bad if there is a small silence. Enjoy the compliment that you just received and then continue the conversation.

#2 – Do not compliment them right back

When someone gives us a compliment, we are inclined to give them the same compliment back. Do not do it! It feels forced and sometimes even fake, which also lowers the worth of the compliment you just received. You often also end up in throwing compliments back and forth. “Your hairs looks nice.” “No, YOUR hair looks good.” It’s better to receive a compliment, continue the conversation and to give a (meaningful) compliment back at another moment.

#3 – Take a moment to see what the compliment does to you

Practice makes perfect and you will see that if you train yourself to accept a compliment, this will have a positive effect on what it does to you. The first few times may feel awkward, but after a while it will make you feel good and will give you more self-confidence. By really taking the time to receive the compliment and reflecting on how it makes you feel, the effect will only become greater.

You did great, Suzanne

Finally… compliment yourself more often. No, that doesn’t make you arrogant. There are things that you are good at. You are allowed to say them out loud. Did you know that self-awareness is the first step to personal leadership?

If you want to know more about personal leadership, take a look at our special coaching package for personal leadership!

TedTalks over Leiderschap - Doors Open training en coaching

One of my favourite hobbies on an evening off during the week or on a Sunday morning is watching Ted Talks. I find it one of the best sources of inspiration on topics that interest me. One of those topics is leadership. From all of the Ted Talks that I have seen, I have made a selection of 6 videos that, in my opinion, you should have seen if you are or want to be a leader.

1 – Drew Dudley: ‘Own your title’

A man wearing a funny hat explains leaderships with the principle of handing out lollies. This Ted Talk is only 6 minutes and 11 seconds and is, without a doubt, my number 1 favourite.

2 – Derek Sivers: ‘How to start a movement’

The original video ‘Dancing Guy’ that was shows at the Sasquath Music Festival in 2009 now has more than 14 million views on YouTube. Derek Sivers explains in just over 3 minutes, using this video, that change and movement starts with that first follower. Do you want to bring about change? Find your first follower, embrace him or her as partner and you are on your way to creating a movement.

3 – Simon Sinek: ‘Why good leaders make you feel safe’

With his inspiring approach, Simon Sinek shows why trust is the foundation of leadership. With bold statements like “Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank” and “Would anybody be offended if we gave a 150 million dollar bonus to Ghandi?” I can guarantee you that, just like me, you will watch this Ted Talk more than once.

 

 

 

 

I am so enthusiastic about this Ted Talk that I created a workbook: “ 5 steps to leadership that creates trust.”

4 – Margaret Heffernan: Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work

Margaret Heffernan explains why hierarchy is destructive rather than constructive. And she does this using… chickens. She shows how an environment with fierce competition (team, organisation or even society) creates aggression, dysfunction and waste. This at the expense of innovation and collaboration. Not something you want as a leader, right? Fortunately, Heffernan also gives insights into how it should be.

5 – Dan Pink: don’t assume money is the best motivator

A large part of the corporate world is built around the idea that employees perform better with financial incentives: bonuses, promotion, commission, shares. In a humorous way, yet backed up by research, Dan Pink shows how this does not work for a lot of jobs in the 21st century. In fact, with tasks that require creativity, problem solving and innovation, it can even be counterproductive and cause a decrease in performance. So what can you do as a leader to motivate people? Pink shares his thoughts on that too.

6 – Itay Talgam: Lead like the great conductors

A orchestra conductor faces the ultimate leadership challenge: creating harmony without saying a word. In this engaging Ted Talk, Italy Talgam shows the unique techniques of 6 of the most important and well-known conductors and uncovers crucial lessons for every leader.

 I am curious to hear what your favourite Ted Talk is about leadership. One of the six above? Or one that is not part of the list? Let me know in the comments.

Want to know more about leadership? Follow me on LinkedIn, I frequently share articles about this topic.