Virtual Teams


Offer as much flexibility as possible sums up the new Microsoft employee guidelines for working from home and we can all learn from their example. With everyone around the world working from home for the last few months, embracing the flexible workplace just sounds logical. At Microsoft they have taken this to a new level by providing clarity in guidelines Offer As Much Flexibility As Possible The guide from Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan, starts by explaining how empathetic she is about the emotional toil that come from the new demands of everybody working at home and often needing to contribute to home schooling at the same time. Working from home is mostly a supported choice and returning to the office is optional for employees (except for those essential onsite roles). It goes on to state that Microsoft plans to “offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workContinue Reading

This article reflects on the organisational culture at GitLab a company who is Transparent and Remote. GitLab have been been at the cutting edge of remote work models since the company was formed in 2011. With a staff of over 1300 people, GitLab has been touted the largest all remote organisation in the world (up until now…). Team members are spread across 67 countries. The company is radically transparent, if you look at its website you can see a list of everyone who works there (with a photo), Management Group policies are explicitly shared on the company website where everyone is aware of what is expected. GitLab are a competitor to Github (which was acquired by Microsoft in 2018 for $7.5 billion USD) but while the product is similar the company culture is radically different. Vibrant (virtual) Watercooler Meetings Recognising that an all remote workforce needed to have a structuredContinue Reading

This article is written by Raj Jana founder of the JavaPresse Coffe Company and he explains what he has been doing to keep the company culture going now that everyone is working from home. He proposes three specific tactics to help keep the culture alive through the virtual meetings. Nurture a meeting culture to connect employeesStructure your meetings in a way that amplifies the connection between colleagues, enable them to use the time to connect in a regular way. Establish a regular schedule for team meetings that doesn’t change, to provide a sense of stability. Give every employee the opportunity to speak, its not about the leader presenting and everyone else listening you need to engage. A good tip is using a Monday meeting to set the week’s intentions and a Friday meeting to reflect on any key learnings as a team. Mandate employee shoutoutsMake recognising individual performance part ofContinue Reading

Managing your team in these difficult and confusing times requires leaders to communicate effectively in ways that measures, motivates and inspires. Your team is looking to you for guidance here are seven ways to rally the troops (and they all start with R) Realistic – Be open and honest about the current complexities. It may be uncomfortable especially communicating when next steps are unclear or not decided, but honesty demonstrates respect. Real – Be your self, be vulnerable, we are all in this together. Rapid – you know we all need to be kept in the loop and that rumours fill a vacuum. So communicate with clarity about what you know now, and what you don’t it will stop people making up the rest. Responsive – Don’t wait to get back to people, don’t wait to communicate, be proactive and responsive. Repetitive – Just because you said it once doesn’tContinue Reading


Leadership organisation Maximus produce an excellent magazine with numerous articles on lessons of leadership, this article really jumped out at me. With everyone working from home, organisations have made significant changes in how they work. Not just changing the technology (video) and the location (home) but also a change in trust relationships, as leaders now have to trust their team to progress work under intense pressure and widely distributed where they are not easily monitored for support and direction. Governance Accountability and the New Era of Democratic Leadership Its not about devolving all accountability, however as Maximus Founder Vanessa Gavan says “You want to open up the boundaries of control to offer more freedom, provide employees with more context than you have ever before, engender higher levels of trust and transparency and ask for their best contribution. This is how you will fulfil their needs and capitalise on their contribution in theContinue Reading

Synopsis of an article from Forbes, by Joe McKendrick Published, 21 July 2020 This article references a recent study Microsoft completed on their employees and how they were coping with working from newly working from home. The team analysed a department of 350 people to better understand what impact mandated working from home was having on the way they worked. some of the key findings included: Longer but choppier work days The work day and the work week was longer with employees tending to work an additional four hours a week starting earlier and finishing later. However this was somewhat offset by more time spent on managing personal priorities such as homeschooling and childcare. More but shorter meetings Lots more meetings especially short 30 minute meetings. Very protective managers Senior managers increased their communication and collaboration. Managers increased messaging 115% as they worked to remain connected to dispersed remote teams.Continue Reading

Synopsis of an article from Inc. by Anne Gherini, Published 15th July 2020 This article points out that EQ or Emotional Intelligence has been recognised as more powerful predictor of an individual’s success as a leader than IQ. As we continue to work fully remotely what do you need to do to dial up the EQ. “High EQ individuals who display empathy, confidence, and comfort with their own limitations will be able to thrive and emerge as leaders in the pack.“ Human Centric Management Empathy – being aware of how others are feeling and coping. For some working from home can be lonely and feel overwhelming. Not everyone has the best home office set up, they may have to share it with others or have to manage home schooling – be aware. Anne points out that you need to make time for check-ins, with out an agenda to have a basis forContinue Reading

Synopsis of an article from Harvard Business Review, by by Justin Hale and Joseph Grenny, Published 9th March 2020 The authors make the argument that too often meeting attendees check out. When everyone is in the same room there are techniques we all use to bring the attention back to the speaker but how do you do that on a virtual meeting. Here are 5 rules that can really help sharpen the focus in your next virtual meeting. The 60 second rule – In the first minute of the meeting do something with the group to make them experience the problem. It might be a dramatic story, compelling statistics or a powerful analogy. The goal is to ensure that the group understands the problem before you discuss or try to solve it. The responsibility rule – when attending a meeting we all have a role, you need to provide clarity on the engagementContinue Reading

Ways to Lead

Synopsis of an article from Forbes, by Benjamin Laker, Published 6th July 2020 In this article Benjamin looks at ‘Respect Trumps Harmony’ a new book from Rachel Robertson who also published ‘Leading on the Edge’ which is an account and the learnings from her expedition to Antartica. The key points that Rachel makes are that now is the perfect time for leaders to reset, redefine and to clarify. To re-set the cultural boundaries, to redefine the rituals and clarify team expectations. Establish what worked in our old rituals and behaviours and what should be ‘ditched’. Three tools that any leaders can use: No TrianglesPractice only having direct conversations to build respect and collaboration. ‘‘We had a simple rule that went ‘I don’t speak to you about him, or you don’t speak to me about her.’ No Triangles go direct to the source”, Rachael said. Manage Your Bacon WarsAs you returnContinue Reading

Tough Leadership

Synopsis of an article from McKinsey By Homayoun Hatami, Pal Erik Sjatil, and Kevin Sneader Published 28th May 2020 CEOs (and all leaders) need to take care of themselvesWith so much to focus on right now, focusing on yourself might not be top of mind, but if you are tired you lose your ability to be effective, you stop processing information as well and your moods may suffer. The authors suggest tips on ways to avoid burnout and tap into new sources of energy. – Call a friend or colleague you like for an early afternoon chat– Take a walk outside, exercise is a tested way to restore energy– Stop Friday afternoon meetings– Consider getting an early night on Thursday to go into the weekend fresh Break out of your isolationGetting unfiltered information and contradictory viewpoints requires finding sources of objective, trustworthy and quality information. Making contact directly with individuals and teams toContinue Reading