We are proud to announce the results of the election for the 2021 board openings! Please join us in congratulating the following board members-elect:
These new members will officially begin their terms in January. Over the next several months, they will be collaborating with the existing board to transition responsibilities and contribute to our operating strategy for 2021.
Once again, congratulations to all our new board members!
By Daniel Stewart, Stewart Leadership
What do you need to do to be an effective leader for your remote team?
Since the Covid-19 Pandemic made remote workers out of so many of us, I have been reading and listening to great information and advice from thought leaders around the globe and across industries. In some ways, it seems like there is so much great information available that knowing where to start or how to sort through it can be perplexing.
I realized that what I wanted, what I was missing, was a succinct and clear overview of the essentials of leading a remote team. What are the actions that set a great remote leader apart?
As I reflected on this, I came to understand that remote leadership, like all leadership, involves being authentic, active, and visible.. We all want leaders who can establish a personal connection - and that desire is nott eliminated just because we happen to be in different locations. The uniqueness of remote teams amplifies and challenges our need for connection even more.
The fundamental behaviors of great leadership haven’t changed - it’s our approach to them that must be adapted. With that in mind, here are the seven essential actions great remote team leaders do.
1. Be Visible: Check-In Every Day & Use Video
People are not forgotten on purpose. They are forgotten by accident.
It’s true what they say: out of sight is out of mind. Acknowledging that this happens, even when we have the best of intentions, incentives us to prioritize visibility. Focus on making yourself visible to your team by building in routines that remind you to connect and be close. This could be a 15-minute call, a slack, or text message - anything that is more immediate.
Ultimately, video is king. It’s fantastic and so needed that we can easily connect with our team through Zoom or similar platforms. Video gives us the opportunity to respond to non-verbal cues, demonstrate that we are listening, and reinforces a sense of connection. It ensures that you are not forgetting your team.
2. Be Accessible: Respond Quickly & Follow Up
Responsiveness in a leader helps build trust, and this holds in both a physical and a remote environment. It demonstrates that you care and that you can be counted upon.
Because of our lack of proximity in remote teams, we need to compensate with the ability to respond quickly and follow up. Aim to respond within a few hours. Being perfect with this isn’t the goal, rather consistency is key. Track and follow up on requests, and be clear with your team that if you haven’t responded to a request, they have permission to follow up.
One challenge with remote work is overcoming the perception that people are not doing what they are supposed to be doing because we cannot see them. Know that this applies to you as well - if your team doesn’t know that you are working to remove obstacles to their work, they will think you are not keeping your commitment to them.
3. Be Clear: Set Clear Goals, Priorities & Agendas
Working from home introduces even more ways to get distracted--both from home life and also with incoming messages from work. Yet, even with each of our full workloads, research shows that remote workers tend to work even more hours than at the office. The key is to provide frequent priority setting conversations. Facilitate these daily, weekly, and monthly expectation setting and resetting conversations to remove obstacles and set realistic priorities that consider both the professional and homelife variables. Expect that each team member uses the agreed upon prioritization filter to manage their work.
With this comes the added need to trust your team and let go of a sense of control, and this can be hard - especially when your team is remote. It’s good to remember that people can be even more productive working as remote employees than they did in the office. By providing clear priorities for your team, they can manage distractions, stay focused on the most important tasks, and empower them to put those hours to good use.
Approach meetings with the same mindset. Set clear agendas and refuse to schedule a meeting without one. Analyze the meeting, keep it short, and consider how to encourage participation. Let people know what they need to come prepared and focus on involving everyone.
4. Be Personable: Care About Each Person
We have a tendency to think of remote work as less personable, but there are ways in which remote work has allowed us to become closer to each other. In our virtual meetings, we have a window into the lives of our team members that did not exist before. We have seen into people’s homes, we have seen the pictures behind them, we have seen kids and pets. In other words, we have seen so many more ways we can establish a connection with each individual.
Continue authentically establishing and building on those connections. Effective leaders demonstrate that they care and they understand the realities each person is facing. Be considerate and recognize that we are talking about humans, not automatons. Meet your team members where they are at and show vulnerability yourself in order to reinforce a sense of psychological safety.
5. Be Outcome-Focused: More Focus On The Why And What Than The How
When leading a remote team it’s critical to focus more on the “what” and less on the “how.” In fact, you will need to provide even greater latitude on the “how” so that your team members can feel a sense of ownership over their work. When you set goals or parcel out assignments, ensure that there is a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished and why it is important.
When leading people it’s easy to fall into a pattern of telling our team members how to do something instead of allowing them the freedom to do their job. The reality is that most professionals competently perform, and when leaders give their team members the privilege to do their job and provide results without focusing on how the work gets done, team members are more engaged in their work, they have a greater sense of pride in their accomplishments, and they appreciate the trust you have in their ability to solve problems.
6. Be Flexible: Set Adaptable Boundaries
The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.
Rigid and uncompromising leaders have a tendency to crack (or at least crack their team!), and this is only exacerbated by remote work. Flexibility defines the necessary mindset for remote leadership. Humans have a tendency to try to control their environment, but this whole remote experience gives us less control.
Understand that some things won’t run as smoothly as you may like. Maybe bandwidth issues cause stuttering in your meetings, or there is a delay that causes team members to start talking over one another. Perhaps you have employees with children who seem to know exactly when their parents are in a meeting and suddenly have 1,000 requests at that exact moment - perhaps your kids do the same.
Being flexible does not mean allowing anything and everything to happen. You must set boundaries for yourself and your team. But choosing to be patient and flexible within those boundaries will reduce stress for yourself and your team members.
7. Be Positive: Acknowledge Good Work
Even when one avoids checking the news too often these days, the stress and uncertainty of these times can permeate our lives, and I don’t know about you, but I am experiencing and noticing in others anxiety over things we cannot control.
As a leader, make work a refuge for your team. It’s possible to recognize the realities and difficulties in the world while still framing our work in a positive and optimistic way. Provide a place for your team where they are trusted and valued. Thank them for their work and capture the things that are going well. Remember, in the end, we are all wanting to make a difference, and acknowledging the contributions from each team member, is one of the most important behaviors a remote leader can show!
Teams are amazing amplifiers of our individual strengths and weaknesses. With the shift to remote teams, we are now getting to know how our skills, talents, and dysfunctions are being amplified in new and different ways. This requires a new leadership perspective as we embrace and lead through the uniqueness of working from home. Gratefully, many of the same critical leadership behaviors that have made us successful in an office environment are also needed for a remote team. However, it is how these behaviors are performed and customized to the uniqueness of working from home that makes all the difference. Be approachable and available, engage in prioritizing conversations, and be personable during these uncertain times and watch the engagement of your team rise!
Daniel Stewart, President and Executive Consultant, is a sought-after talent management and leadership development consultant and coach with proven experience advising senior leaders, leading change, and designing leadership-rich organizations. He leads Stewart Leadership’s extensive consulting practice, business development, and international partnerships.
For more information on leading teams in the workplace, visit Stewart Leadership, or Daniel Stewart on LinkedIn.
By: Emily Liddle, The CARA Group
For many organizations, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed some serious vulnerabilities. Businesses not equipped with a digital strategy have become highly reactive and struggled to swiftly pivot and support their workforce development under these unprecedented circumstances. Clearly, these uncertain times call for pioneer thinking. Organizations must learn, expand, and develop new ways to enable people to do better work through a continuously evolving digital strategy.
This lead paragraph might seem vague and grandiose; don’t get disillusioned by these opening lines. Let’s take a take a closer look at how organizations can leverage a digital mindset to successfully move both technology and people to the center of their response strategy and ongoing corporate narrative.
Where to start? Well, by defining a term that gets a lot of eye rolls - Digital Transformation.
Digital Transformation starts with the complete rethinking of how a business operates. Said best by McKinsey & Company, it is about empowering employees to embrace change and to challenge old ways of working. Digital Transformation must take place at all levels within an organization, i.e., the core business must fundamentally change. Countless business leaders have been reluctant to do the hard work - to transform their business operations to digital, but with the unexpected global crisis, they now have no choice. Becoming digital is the only way forward.
A Digital Transformation introduces boundless opportunities for innovation, operational efficiencies, and competitive advantage. Simply injecting technology into an existing process proves insufficient in realizing what it means to be digital. So, this is when the difference between Automation verses Digitalization becomes important.
Automation vs. Digitalization
Both Gartner and Forbes have published excellent content on the difference between Automation and Digitalization. Two recommended articles are included in the footnotes. If you are interested, dive in! To simplify the jargon:
Unfortunately, many organizations focus on implementing automation with an intention to simplify work by removing human intervention as opposed to creating resilient business models. The output of these expensive automation projects consistently fails to meet business needs/expectations. Meanwhile, businesses who embrace digitalization have the mindset to better manage change overall, making change management a core competency while the business becomes more agile and customer centric.
Digital Transformation of Learning
In today’s corporate setting, a person’s success is often attributed to their ability to learn and adapt. Education is an enabler for people, particularly during times of substantial change. One would think this understating would propel corporate learning to the top of the priority list.
McKinsey & Company’s research had previously forecasted that the skills needed in the workplace will be utterly different by 2030. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this prediction to 2020. It’s imperative for organizations to support and develop their people in this disruptive transformation of work. Such an immense workforce revolution must be met with appropriate learning and development strategies.
One of the main goals of any corporate learning strategy should be making information accessible across the entire organization. Learning should not be a struggle, yet in most of today’s corporate settings, learning has not been designed to be people centric. The Godfather of Corporate Learning, Josh Bersin, talks about how external consumer platforms like Google, YouTube, and LinkedIn make it extremely easy to search and consume knowledge-based content. These new age consumer platforms have become the common place for learners to circumvent their company’s clunky learning offerings for a better learning experience. Ironically, these external tech giants end up knowing more about an employee’s learning needs and skill level than their actual employer. And they leverage this information to create personalized, timely, and interconnected learning experiences. Businesses should take note, there is something to learn here, pun intended!
Fundamental gaps exist with how people consume content and retain knowledge inside and outside of work. Below are four things to consider when redesigning your corporate learning strategy to meet consumer expectations:
A Digital Approach to Corporate Learning
This humanitarian crisis has changed business operating models forever. In turn, organizations are forced to rapidly evolve old learning programs and training models to support their newly fractionalized workforce. Every organization is impacted differently. Some have transitioned to working remote. Others have evolved to shift patterns of small cohorts. All are creating new roles and transitioning people to support swiftly changing business demands. A digital learning strategy is required now, more than ever before, to support the disruption.
Not sure where to start with your digital learning transformation? Hit the ground running with these six recommendations for reimagining corporate learning activities into effective and immersive digital learning experiences.
Remember, the Digital Transformation of Learning extends beyond the virtual delivery of instructional courses and training. It requires a mindset shift for how organizations fundamentally approach learning for the workforce. Linking proven learning methods with advanced technology allows organizations to meet the immediate needs of their people while future proofing their workforce along the way.
Josh Bersin learning-experience-platform
By Jane Giacobassi, MRA
Simply stated, everyone has emotions. In fact, research shows that most people have 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day and each one has an emotion connected to it.
So, when your workplace has a “check your emotions at the door” or “emotions have no place at work” mentality, you are being set up for failure.
Emotional intelligence, or EI, is not a new concept. Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, has served as a guide in the EI field for more than 25 years.
As Goleman’s book title states, EI can be more important than intellect when it comes to success in the workplace (and your personal life). The better grasp you have on EI within yourself and those you work with the more successful you will be.
What happens when you are negatively triggered? Say someone takes credit for your fantastic idea at work. Your brain has a biological response—it thinks it is threatened and releases hormones. Suddenly you are in survival mode. Because of this, you lose critical thinking capabilities and become limited in your decision-making abilities. It happens in a typical workday all the time.
Let’s flip that scenario. Suppose your boss just told you how awesome you are and that she loves the work you are doing. When rewards happen, your brain kicks in and releases dopamine, the “feel-good” hormone, which enhances your critical thinking. You become highly engaged and rise to the peak of creativity and problem-solving.
People with a high EI can manage these situations, knowing what their reactions will be. They also tend to be more resilient, handling stress, and adapting better to change compared to a person unaware of their EI capabilities.
Emotional intelligence also has to do with noticing behavior, being authentic, and having the ability to have difficult conversations productively. It’s about responding rather than reacting. It’s when you take a deep breath and use all your skills to respond well.
There is a tremendous return on investment for organizations that measure and provide development opportunities for EI. When people have a higher level of EI it’s been shown they:
Wait a minute—let’s go back to that sell more part. Salespeople with high EI can sell more effectively because they craft conversations and build relationships more successfully with clients through their authentic, empathetic foundation. It makes for longer relationships and ultimately drives more sales. A well-developed EI can help the bottom line.
The good news is that unlike people’s intelligence quotient that cannot be learned or improved on, a person’s EI certainly can be. And not only does it make for a better employee, it makes for a well-rounded and resilient person.
Human brains are certainty-seeking machines, meaning they aren’t fans of not knowing what’s going to happen. Since mid-March, most people have been in a constant state of uncertainty because of COVID-19. It has been a time of juggling and coping, homeschooling, and stressing, doing what needs to be done to be successful at work and at home.
Having your EI sharpened has never been more important with COVID-19 in the picture. Most things have changed at work and we all want to come out the other side of the pandemic being able to better navigate work environments by diagnosing and prescribing solutions.
Bottom line: The way you show up at work—the way you interact with people and the behaviors you choose—has an impact on the way people feel. The way people feel controls the extent to which they can engage. When people are stressed, unhappy, or anxious, they are incapable of drawing on the mental resources to engage as fully as they are when they are happy, inspired, and empowered. With a high EI, you can learn and choose to show up at work in a different way that will not only benefit you, but others around you.
Jane Giacobassi, MA, SPHR, at MRA is a Genos International Certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner. Jane now helps MRA members:
In September, you will receive a ballot asking for your vote on three proposed amendments to the chapter bylaws. The Board has recommended these amendments, and we need your approval to proceed.
The linked PDF file shows our current bylaws and the proposed amendments. Below, we have briefly described the proposed amendments and our reasons for wanting to make the changes. If you have any questions about these proposed amendments, please feel free to contact Colin Hahn at email@example.com, or any other board member.
Proposed Amendment #1: Board Structure Amendment
The current SEWI-ATD Board structure lists ten roles that must be on the Board, and then allows other roles to be created in addition to those ten.
This level of detail is unusual. Many non-profit organizations choose to name a smaller number of roles (such as the President, VP, and Treasurer) and then leave other roles flexible so the Board can adapt over time.
The flexibility of altering Board roles will help our organization adapt to future needs. For instance, we have wanted to add a sponsorship role to the Board instead of assigning those responsibilities to the “special projects” role, and we have wanted to shift the “communications” role into a “marketing and communications” direction.
The proposed amendment leaves the 3 Presidency track roles and VP Finance/Treasurer role explicitly named, and says that the other roles can be modified by the Board. The amendment also requires the Board to have a minimum of 10 members so the chapter maintains a large enough Board to function effectively.
To be clear: this amendment does not eliminate any of the existing Board positions. It merely gives the Board the ability to change or rename roles in the future, without having to go through the full bylaws amendment process for each change.
The Board believes this amendment will give us the flexibility we need to continue meeting your needs and adapting to our rapidly changing environment.
Proposed Amendment #2: Immediate Past-President Amendment
In the current version of the bylaws, the Immediate Past President role is over-defined. The bylaws list some very tactical responsibilities, such as organizing the summer social. That level of detail is a problem if the Board wants to adjust our event calendar or assign those specific events to another Board member.
At the same time, the bylaws are ambiguous about who owns the succession planning process. Both the Immediate Past President and the President Elect are assigned to lead the nominating committee at various points in the text.
This amendment clarifies the Immediate Past President responsibilities. It removes the tactical language of specific events while retaining the overall responsibility of providing guidance and expertise to the Board. It also has the President-Elect lead the nominating committee. The Board felt the nominating committee was a better fit for the President-Elect because that person will be recruiting for the Board that will serve during their term as President. The Immediate Past President will still sit on that committee, ensuring that their experience is heard.
Proposed Amendment #3: Digital Changes Amendment
The Board has been considering how we can function more effectively in a digital world, and the COVID-19 pandemic added additional urgency to that transition. The proposed amendment adds language to the bylaws to clarify how Board business can be conducted when face-to-face interaction is not possible.
The key change in this amendment is the creation of a process to vote on chapter business via email. The Board examined other nonprofits to develop this process. The proposed solution requires a 14 day notice period, a written description of the action to be approved, and a unanimous vote of a quorum of board members in order to adopt the measure.
Taken together, these requirements ensure that the Board will be clear on what it is voting for. If there is any desire for further discussion, a Board member can simply vote no and seek the clarity that they need.
The Board has voted to recommend adoption of all three amendments. In September, all members will receive a link to vote on the proposed amendments. A majority of votes will be required for each amendment to pass.
If you have any questions about these amendments or the process, any of the Board members would be happy to answer your questions.
Dear SEWI-ATD members,
We asked for your suggestions of ideas, resources, and experiences to help our chapter and our members tackle the challenge of racial diversity and equity. We have been sharing those resources through our newsletter over the last few months.
An essential part of creating an inclusive environment is being honest when we fall short. In your suggestions, we saw feedback that some of our community members haven't felt welcomed at our events. We are sad that this is the experience some participants have had, and we're grateful to hear it because it tells us where we still need to do work.
During our July Board meeting, we reviewed our Code of Conduct. We realized that the current code doesn't communicate our vision for an inclusive and equitable professional association, and we want to revise that code so we can be clear about our commitments to each other.
We are looking for volunteers to help us improve our Code of Conduct. This will be a relatively short time commitment (a couple of hours over the next 1-2 months), and it is a great opportunity for you to help shape the future of our community. If you are interested in being part of this team, please email Colin Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, July 25.
We are so grateful to have a membership that cares about these issues, who want to do right by the communities we serve, and who are willing to give candid feedback on how we can do better. Thank you for helping us in our journey to become a more inclusive organization!
7 Steps to Transform Instructor-Led Training to Virtual Learning
The CARA Group
As you continue to transition instruction from in-person to online, consider these steps from The CARA Group. Download this infographic at www.thecaragroup.com.
Difficult Conversations - Strategies For Success
Let's face it—difficult conversations are going to happen. Sometimes they are planned in advance, and other times they happen when we least expect. Difficult conversations can take many shapes and forms. We may need to correct an employee’s behavior, work with an upset colleague, tell a boss that a deadline won’t be met, inform an employee that he or she is being terminated, or address a troubling remark from a co-worker.
What makes difficult conversations, well, so difficult? For the answer, let’s look at a definition:
A difficult conversation is a situation in which at least two parties are engaged where (a) there are differing opinions, perceptions, needs, or desires, (b) feelings and emotions run strong, and (c) the consequences or stakes are significant.
Difficult conversations can also be defined as those that make us feel uncomfortable, nervous, vulnerable, exposed, or even frightened. One or both individuals may have the feeling that the interaction isn’t going to go well.
How we lead (or react) during difficult discussions can have a major impact on future decisions, promotability, reputation, or an employee’s feelings of self-worth.
Below are five simple strategies to improve the chances that a difficult conversation will achieve the results hoped for:
Difficult conversations that can spiral out of control are ones where honesty and transparency are not present. This includes distorting facts, not admitting to mistakes, telling outright lies, or wanting to spare hurting someone’s feelings. Being honest in a professional and considerate way allows for resolutions to be reached more quickly and credibility remains intact.
Be Mentally Prepared
Ensure the right mindset before going into a difficult conversation. Instead of focusing on the fact that conflict is nerve-wracking and the conversation will probably be tense, concentrate on the purpose of the conversation and how resolving the conflict will improve the situation going forward. Having the mental position of, "Something got off track, and we need to figure out how to make it better" is a more productive mindset to achieving outcomes.
Plan the Conversation
Many difficult conversations occur on a planned basis, so it’s possible to have facts and figures prepared ahead of time. Even major discussion points can be outlined to help keep the conversation on task. Anticipate all potential conflicts or reactions and how they can be positively addressed to avoid being caught off-guard. If more information is needed during the discussion, ask for time to pull it together so the conversation can continue with informed data.
Keep in mind that difficult conversations are about problem solving. The best way to get to the root of a problem is to continue to ask questions. This allows the conversation to get further into the facts so rushed judgements aren’t made. This can help when extreme statements creep into difficult conversations, such as “you always…” or “you never…” Questions such as, "What specifically are you referring to?" or "When did this occur?" or "Who was involved?" or "Can you give me a specific example of when that happened?" can get the conversation back to the details needing to be discussed. Asking questions and listening for understanding are critical techniques for any type of communication interaction.
A powerful communication technique is the use of empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand the emotion behind what the other person is communicating. Words like “It sounds like…” or “You must be feeling…” acknowledges that their emotion has been heard and recognized. Skilled empathizers can read body language, decipher tone, and ask clarifying questions to better understand the situation. Validating another’s emotions without needing to agree with the emotion works to move a stuck conversation forward because more often than not, people want to know that they have been heard.
While difficult conversations can be trying at times, practicing these strategies can make them more constructive and productive.
Founded in 1901, MRA is a nonprofit employer association that serves more than 4,000 employers, covering more than one million employees worldwide. Read more about MRA at https://www.mranet.org/.
Call for Volunteers and Leader Nominations
Our chapter needs your talents! As a volunteer organization, SEWI-ATD relies on our members to serve the talent development community in southeastern Wisconsin.
We are looking for volunteers at all levels, from helping out at single events to participating on committees or serving as a board member. To find out more about how you can get involved, or to recommend someone in your network, please email our President-Elect Colin Hahn.
Serving as a chapter volunteer is a great way to develop as a leader, build professional relationships, and gain experience to grow your career. Whether you have any of the skills below, or want an opportunity to develop these skills, we’d love to help you succeed!
We need volunteers to:
We are currently planning our 2021 board nominations and committee leaders, please email Colin by July 9th to find out how you can be involved.
We strongly encourage members of under-represented groups to participate. As a chapter, we are committed to building an inclusive and welcoming environment for talent professionals of all backgrounds and identities, and we know that we still have work to do in building a leadership team that reflects the talent profession. If you have suggestions for how we can do better in this area, please email Colin as well.
To the members, organizations, and communities we serve:
A respected friend and Talent Development leader reminded me recently that “silence says something as well.” I am so grateful for this patient nudge. As a person of privilege in our society I have found myself hesitating out of fear or uncertainty of how to help. I am leaning on the advice of those trusted friends and colleagues who have generously supported me while already carrying a heavy burden of their own.
I teach leadership and management skills. I stand in front of classrooms and train people to have the difficult conversations and share explicitly about their context and intent. That includes the lesson to leaders that proactive communication is critical to avoid damaging assumptions and that as leaders we are accountable for the perception of our organizations and teams. Now as a leader in our community of professionals, I have a responsibility to practice what I preach and speak clearly.
The institutional racism and violence against people of color in our nation is unacceptable and must stop. Racism is not new and it is not limited to what we can see in our news feeds. We in the talent development community have seen it in job interviews, talent review meetings, leadership pipelines, and board rooms.
We stand broken-hearted but proudly with the communities across the nation who are making their deep pain explicit and visible for others. And we are committed to listening and putting in the work as a chapter to become more inclusive and supportive of all the talent in Southeastern Wisconsin.
This is our cause.
SEWI-ATD is an organization of professionals who believe in the potential of human beings to learn, grow, and improve. We have been trained—and train others—how to listen for understanding, how to set expectations and build culture, and how to coach others through their blind spots. We understand the need for reinforcement of learning and how to help transfer knowledge and awareness into action. Right now, our communities need these skills more than ever. And so we have a responsibility to act.
Some of us have already been leading this work, knowing that our communities of talent cannot flourish when we are divided by our skin color, ZIP code, or identity. We are grateful for your guiding examples. Others of us are being asked to step beyond our personal comfort zones in order to help. Wherever you are in your own journey, know that we at SEWI-ATD are here to support you.
The nation, our state, the organizations and communities to which our members belong all have a lot of learning to do. Let’s get to it.
HELP US TO TAKE ACTION
I would ask those in our community of learning professionals to help us all to learn.
Chapter President, SEWI-ATD