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Leading Effective Virtual Meetings

Leading Effective Virtual Meetings

The dynamic of our workforce is continually changing. The current situation of COVID-19 has many organizations making quick, on the spot decisions. For instance, it is no longer safe for employees to work in their usual office spaces. So how are businesses adapting? Thankfully, many companies can offer remote work options – meaning that group operations, such as team meetings, are conducted virtually.

As companies navigate through these unpredictable times, at-home offices and virtual meetings have become the norm. The sudden shift from in-person meetings to virtual meetings require organizations to quickly find a solution – from finding a reliable platform to upholding productivity. Both employees and employers always need to be flexible and adapt. When faced with significant changes, it is crucial to utilize emotional intelligence. Using emotional intelligence enables one to empathize with others and is also the key ingredient in recognizing an individual’s own emotions to make better, informed decisions.    

Leading Effective Virtual Meetings

 

Whether virtual meetings are the favourite or most dreaded event in the workday, the question of “How to lead effective virtual meetings in times of uncertainty?” remains. Let’s be honest – when living in unprecedented times, it’s normal for employees to feel unmotivated and disengaged. To combat this, we put together our top three emotional intelligence tips to help kickstart productivity, engagement, and, ultimately, lead effective virtual meetings! 

1. Schedule Connection

 

The first step is to ensure that your employees are set for success for virtual meetings. Utilizing a meeting agenda is excellent at outlining purpose, updates, topics, and decisions. However, leaders need to ensure the schedule sets aside time for connection and collaboration. It’s easy to deliver a task over email, but purposeful conversation and direction happen face-to-face. Although teams cannot meet in person, leaders can put aside time each day for check-ins, recognition, and sharing positive news!

Set allotted time slots for each item to ensure employees are not losing opportunities to connect with colleagues. A leader can act as the gatekeeper to keep everyone accountable and ensure everyone gets a chance to be heard during the meetings. Even though there may only be one individual leading the discussion, that does not mean that it is a solo mission! 

Connecting is essential and helps employees build trust in the organization. When leaders can bring a level of trust in the organizations, they feel obligated to participate since they genuinely care about their opinions. Therefore, building trust is the most significant step towards effective meetings and a productive work environment.

Furthermore, your workforce likely spans across multiple generations, all with varying skill levels. Leading effective meetings means everyone has to participate. Leaders need to ensure all employees have the resources to participate in virtual discussions. Encourage younger generations to meet with older generations and help them through the challenges of setting up virtual meetings. By understanding the different levels of skill in the organization, leaders can provide the proper support to all generations. Leaders will eliminate stress and supply employees with the new skills and knowledge required for the upcoming virtual meeting! 

2. Flexibility and empathy go a long way

 

Working from home proposes a unique situation as professional lifestyles and personal lifestyles blend. You do not know what is happening behind the scenes of your employees’ lives. Therefore, it is critical to act and lead with empathy and flexibility.

When leading virtual meetings, remember that everyone has a different work situation. For instance, some employees may have a nice, quiet space, ideal for working, while others may need to prepare a meal for their kids first before attending the meeting. As a result, remember to be patient and kind towards all team members. Make it an effort to check in and learn more about their situation and then ask how best to support them. Try incorporating check-ins at the beginning of your virtual meetings to understand the team members’ emotions better even though apart. 

Once leaders understand the different circumstances each of their team members are in, they will adapt meetings to be more effective for everyone. For example, maybe before virtual work meetings were at 9 am, but now half of your workplace has to homeschool their children during that time. Leaders need to be aware of their team’s schedules, so they can make meeting accommodations that benefit the entire team. Not only do leaders need to improve on flexibility, but team members need to as well. It is time to be patient and understanding! If a team member is five minutes late to a meeting, invite them with open arms. Similar to leaders, team members also need to trust that their colleagues are doing their best.   

When leading virtual meetings, be empathetic and flexible. Remember, everyone is not in the same boat, but rather the same storm.

3. Set Rules but Be Open to Change 

As mentioned above, team members may be unfamiliar with virtual meetings; it may even be their first time attending one! To help the team ease into virtual meetings, layout the guidelines in an email and delegate time at the beginning of the meeting as a reminder. Examples of online etiquette for consideration include having cameras on, punctuality, and dress code. Once these norms are established, virtual meetings will become less intimidating as the team members know what to expect. 

In return, leaders should also be open to feedback regarding meeting structure and logistics. Encourage participation whenever possible to keep team members engaged. As team members are participants of the meeting, their opinions should be equally, if not more, valued like their leaders. Cultivate a culture of open communication. After the virtual conversation, discuss (if time allows) or send out a follow-up email requesting their thoughts and feelings on how the meeting went. 

Like acting with empathy, be mindful of how to tailor meetings to best suit employees’ needs. For example, if team members feel that they are experiencing screen fatigue, dedicate a few minutes throughout the session to take a quick stretch break. As a leader, do not be afraid to ask for help from your team members. While operating through times of uncertainty, take this moment to collaborate and learn together; leading effective virtual meetings are a collective effort!  

Benefits of an Effective Virtual Meeting

 

Leading effective virtual meetings allows people a chance to feel connected, appreciated, and fulfilled at their job. Right now, everyone is struggling to feel genuinely connected to their workplace, and productivity is at the lowest it has ever been. When leaders embrace the importance of connecting their employees, their productivity, innovation, and overall positivity will significantly improve. Emotional intelligence gives leaders the tools to communicate with their employees on a deeper level and run meaningful meetings for everyone in the workplace. 

If interested in learning more about leveraging emotional intelligence to lead remote teams in times of uncertainty, check out either of these workshops, Leading Remote Teams with Emotional Intelligence or Leading Effective Meetings. Also, check out our Virtual EQ Retreat, specifically designed to assess and develop a team’s emotional intelligence through a remote learning platform! 

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Embracing Change with Emotional Intelligence

Embracing Change with Emotional Intelligence

Change is intimidating, but nothing good ever comes easy. Experienced leaders translate change into a possibility they should embrace! Organizations need to reverse the view that change is an obstacle to overcome, rather than an opportunity to improve and do better. Take reorganizations or mergers, for example. Organizational changes can create new positions, divisions or departments, or a chance to create a new job title. 

The mindset of change needs to alter. Becoming more aware of the communication, relationships, and emotions will bring trust and clarity to the organization. Not only will employees feel more connected, appreciated and fulfilled, but teams will excel in engagement, productivity, and innovation. Leaders are too focused on the negative impact of change; they miss out on the rewards of embracing change and utilizing their emotional intelligence to get there.

Embracing Change with Emotional Intelligence

 

By embracing change with emotional intelligence, your employees will be more positive, present and productive. Organizations that manage change with a positive mindset are finding new ways to work and interact with each other to adapt to the “new normal” that is 2020. When people embrace change, they stop pointing fingers, the stress uplifts, and employees have more time to spend on work than worrying about what will happen. 

The big question everyone is wondering: How are leaders lifting the stress of uncertainty? It comes from removing blame and replacing it with acceptance and patience as everyone adjusts to the change at a different pace. Accepting change comes from a place of understanding and empathy for people’s various positions. Once leaders open up communication within the organization and take the time for genuine, honest conversations from the top-down, employees will feel more comfortable and committed to getting through the changing conditions.

As Brene Brown says, “realize that everyone is doing their best.” If leaders can learn to tune into their emotions and manage change with the mindset, everyone is genuinely trying to do the best they can, the stress of change lifts. If a leader is continually blaming departments for their profit losses or nagging on employee’s productivity, the negativity will spread top-down, resulting in decreased productivity. People cannot separate their workplace feelings from what is happening in the world. Leaders need to accept, appreciate and spread a positive message of change.

Boosting Productivity

 

Right now, organizations are facing exponential drops in productivity. Often, organizations get caught up in the numbers and forget there is a valid reason behind the decrease in motivation. Change is not easy for employees, primarily when the change affects their work and personal lives. Leaders of organizations need to realize the importance of embracing change in their workspaces.  Organizations that are already focusing on the importance of culture and communication come out of change more resilient. 

How organizations are engaging with their teams is a large part of their overall productivity. In How to Engage Your Virtual Workforce Using Emotional Intelligence, it outlines the different tactics leaders must take to lead effectively, and it is the same with change management. The best way to engage with your team to alleviate their fear of change is to communicate with them. With the change in the workplace, leaders need to find new ways to engage and collaborate with their employees. When employees feel heard and supported in their work, they will spend less time stressing about their job’s uncertainty and get more work done.

Below are three ways emotional intelligence can increase productivity in the workplace during change.

 

1. Help Others

 

Help others get through this change. You are not the only one feeling the pressure of change in the workplace. Offer your support through open communication. In You Can Count on Change, it focuses on communication to bring people comfort. Everyone handles change differently, so a one-size-fits-all solution will not fly. Leaders need to stimulate conversation between their employees and offer resources to help when your own hands are full. It takes a village to help create a culture of embracing change!

2. Maintain Relationships

 

During a significant change, it is crucial to open up your empathy circle. Collaboration and “water-cooler” talk are that of the past. Instead, leaders need to find new ways to engage their employees. Engaging employees stems from a supportive conversation, communication outlets like Slack, and allowing casual conversation. Building relationships helps build trust in the organization, making it easier to get down to work when you have people relying on you. 

3. Active Coping

 

Avoid escape coping and acknowledge the changes happening. Problems that are put under the rug develop a deep level of distrust and uncertainty within the organization. Active coping allows organizations to take on the problem head-on and keep employees in the action plan. When employees know their role in the change, they are more inclined to offer help, work harder, and take on more responsibility.

Embrace Change from the Top-Down

 

Leaders need to recognize that their employees may be in the same storm, but they are all in different boats. In Leading Change in the Workplace, it emphasizes the importance of communicating the vision for buy-in. For leaders to breed a culture that embraces change from the top-down, they need to ensure people understand the changes to come. Internalizing the vision helps employees embrace change more effectively and also connects them to the process. 

Embracing change is not an overnight task. Organizations should not be saving their emotional intelligence tactics when change or uncertainty strikes, but rather embedding it into their culture. Emotional intelligence can better help organizations manage stress, communicate compassionately, and build more productive workplaces even in the storm of change. Change is always around the corner; if organizations do not embrace it, that may have a rude awakening.

To learn more about embracing change with emotional intelligence or leading during these changing times, check out our Leading Through Change workshop. For more, keep up with our latest blog on effective change management – You Can Count on Change!

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How to Lead Through Change with Emotional Intelligence

How to Lead Through Change with Emotional Intelligence

Never has it been more important to engage with your staff in ways that work for them. In these times of uncertainty and change, Emotional Intelligence – the ability to connect with people on an emotional level – is crucial to maintaining strong and resilient teams. 

With all of the economic hardships facing the world, collaboration challenges working in remote teams, not to mention increased worker worries and anxieties, organizations are forced to lead differently through these unprecedented times.  Strong leaders realize the impact emotions have on making decisions, communicating effectively with others, and coping with stress and unfamiliar situations.

Even before COVID-19, the World Economic Forum had ranked Emotional Intelligence as one of the top ten skills required to succeed.  The Future of Jobs Report showed that Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence, and service orientation are also set to see a particular increase in demand by 2022 relative to today’s current prominence.  

Now, months into the new normal, EI has become the top skill required to succeed post-pandemic. The companies who survive will be those who understand the importance of emotional intelligence and recruit and develop teams who excel at using this crucial skill in their work.

In fact, when tested alongside 33 other workplace skills, emotional intelligence was the strongest predictor of performance, explaining 58% of success in all types of jobs. Therefore, investing in emotional intelligence training in the workplace will improve employee morale, emotional well-being, as well as productivity.

Check out our newest video to learn how to use Emotional Intelligence to lead your team through change effectively!

 

Video Transcription

 

Today’s leaders need a completely new skillset.

You are managing the most complex workforce in history. It’s made up of people from multiple generations, across different ethnicities, religions, genders, sexual orientations and cultural backgrounds.

The work environment has also drastically shifted, thanks to a combination of technology and the aftermath of COVID 19. We no longer have to be in the same country as our colleagues, never mind the same office! And today’s employees are less willing to spend their lives commuting to crowded offices and are demanding options for remote work and virtual teams.

This all makes your job of managing even more difficult.   Is your organization struggling with all of these changes?

The truth is that the way you were previously taught to manage employees doesn’t work in this modern world.

Tuning into emotions is the key to effectively managing today’s multigenerational, diverse and virtual workforce. Emotional Intelligence is the leadership superpower today’s managers need to boost productivity and employee engagement. 

Let’s face it; people are complicated. And our ever-changing workplaces make leading even more challenging. But one thing hasn’t changed. 

Every person, no matter their role, age, or background, wants three very important things in their workplace.

CONNECTION.

APPRECIATION.

and FULFILLMENT.

When people feel connected to their team, appreciated for their efforts, and fulfilled in their job, it improves how they feel and perform at work. 

Research has shown that Emotional Intelligence is the critical skill exceptional managers use to get the best results from their teams. Try this simple exercise: 

  • Ask one person on your team, “How do you want to be recognized for a job well done? “ 
  • Then, listen attentively to their responses 
  • At least twice over the next week, act on the feedback and show appreciation to them in the way they suggested. 
  • Notice what happens.

At EI Experience, we help you build a productive, profitable organization with happy, engaged employees that make a difference in the world. We teach you how to lead with emotional intelligence so that you naturally improve your communications, strengthen your relationships, make better decisions and cope with stress more effectively, building your employees’ confidence along the way. 

Effortlessly watch personality conflicts melt away and position your employees to work together to take on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

Emotional intelligence is quite simply, the magic ingredient for connecting authentically, communicating effectively and thriving collectively. Book a call or email us to find out how.

For more blogs on leading through change, check out our blogs How to Embrace Change with Emotional Intelligence, and Leading Effective Virtual Meetings.

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Leading Change in the Workplace

Leading Change in the Workplace

There are many examples from the world of business that show us how important change and innovation are to an organization’s very survival. Take Blackberry for example. A few years ago they were industry leaders in the cellphone market, with their qwerty keyboards being especially popular amongst the business savvy.  But Blackberry seemed to get too comfortable, too complacent, and in essence, Research in Motion had stopped moving. In 2007, Apple came in with the iPhone, and the rest is history. Blackberry has been stuck playing catchup ever since.

Now, you may have questions, such as “How can my organization adapt to the chaos of a constantly changing market?” or “How can I embrace change in the workplace?” or better yet, “How can I lead change?

Dr. John Kotter, a retired professor at Harvard Business School, has developed an 8 step system that will show you how to lead change in your own organization. These steps may seem common sense, and probably are intuitive to many successful change-makers, but the way that Dr. Kotter lays it out, step by step, will really help you visualize the process. It will make those subconscious notions into something you will consciously notice. In a world of turbulence, it’s always better to have a plan that explains how a team leader can implement change in the workplace.

Step 1: Establish a Sense of Urgency!

The first step of leading change is building that feeling of ‘Something about this must be done!” and making people realize that the change will affect them for the better. If you don’t mind the mixed metaphors, the window of opportunity is only open for a limited time, so if you don’t seize the day, the iron will get cold. But that really is the message you want to get across, that feeling of true urgency that will have your people striving for real progress

It’s the same way how a sense of urgency can force you to get things done. If you know you have things to do, but you don’t have a set deadline for when to do them, it makes it so much easier to put it off and procrastinate. Think of procrastination as being like complacency, which are both anathemas to change.

 

Step 2: Generate the Guiding Coalition

Leading change is not a one-man (or woman) show, and the next step in the process is building the coalition, or team, that will guide your change initiative.  Your team not only has to be on the same page, but have the expertise and credibility to rally others to the cause. Think about who you would want on your team.

Remember that everyone has their areas of expertise, and you should choose people with complementary skill sets to ensure your coalition is well-rounded.  The people in your team should also have the leadership and power to drive change themselves.  It is critical that the members of your team trust each other, even though they may not agree with each other all the time.

 

Step 3: Developing a Change Vision

Think of your vision as the overarching theme of your change initiative.  It should act as the guiding force that connects your strategies, action plans and budget, while at the same time motivating the people in your organization. It should inspire and also serve as a basic understanding, a jumping-off point, for everyone involved.

It needs to be easily communicated and resonate with people, and make them want to join in on the change. Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be overly long or complicated. Indeed, there can be a certain beauty in simplicity. Remember Apple’s “Think Different” campaign?  The best visions are flexible, imaginable, and feasible.

 

Step 4: Communicating the Vision for Buy-In

The next step in developing your change vision is getting the word out, but it is more than just a numbers game. It needs to go beyond just telling people the vision; they need to understand and accept it. Ensuring that people understand and accept the vision comes from communication and consistency. A series of memos or speeches by the CEO is not enough.  The vision needs to be internalized into the day-to-day happenings of the organization as people need to see how it permeates all aspects of your organization from the education programs, to internal memos, to the quarterly meetings.

 

Step 5: Empowering Broad-Based Action

This step involves removing obstacles to change in order to empower the people to unleash their potential. The most common barriers are often structural, which arise out of the way the company is organized.  For example, the many layers of management and bureaucracy of some organizations can often hinder progress and waste time when it comes to making quick decisions.

Troublesome supervisors may also resist and be significant barriers to change, and the best way to deal with them is to be open and honest.  The goal should not be to manipulate or trick a troublesome supervisor into doing what you want; your end goal should be for them to become part of the team.

You should also keep in mind that your team members can also become leaders amongst their own groupsand sometimes you need to give up ownership of an idea because organizational change doesn’t just depend on one person, it depends on many. If you give people the power and freedom to go off on their own, you could be amazed at what they come up with.

 

Step 6: Create Short-Term Wins

This step involves breaking up what may seem to be an intimidating or insurmountable task into a series of smaller, achievable ‘wins’. With the vision you created in step 3 acting as a guide, you need to think of what you need to achieve to make it happen.  It may help if you start with the end goal in mind, and think of what you need to get there, and keep on going back until you reach the first step. Use this as an outline of what you need to do.

The short-term wins must be visible and unambiguous, and they will not only help keep track of progress but as you get more of these wins, it will build momentum.  This is related to the basic premises of SMART Goal Setting and Management by Objectives (MBO) theory.

Remember that even a marathon begins with a single step, and then another, and another, and repeat until you’ve run those 26 miles. Each short-term win is another step in achieving your vision.

 

Step 7: Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change

Keep moving forward, and do not give up. The long-term success of your change initiative depends on it. Do not lose that sense of urgency! Keep the pressure on and always be looking forward.

By this step, you should be beginning to see the fruits of your labor in the form of a growing list of short-term wins, growing support from senior leadership, and employee empowerment.

 

Step 8: Make it Stick

Making sure the changes become embedded in the organizational culture is the final step in Leading Change.  It needs to be ingrained in the culture and requires frequent communication and consistency. You must create an atmosphere that is supportive of the change and be able to show how the benefits clearly outweigh the old ways.

Change is a fundamental force that affects all things. Naturally, this also includes you, and your organization. We all know there are some changes that are inevitable and unavoidable, such as the passage of time (and taxes!), and the best way to deal with it is to try to lead it in the right direction.  I hope you will use the 8 Steps to leading change in the workplace as a guide to improving your organization.

It all starts with the first step. So, what are you waiting for?

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