By Nicole De Falco, Learning Strategist/Sr. ID Consultant, The CARA Group
Inclusion may not be rocket science, but it is human science. And, in today’s environment, it is non-negotiable. Inclusion is imperative for leaders to drive up innovation and drive out institutional racism. A Deloitte Insights article by Juliet Bourke and Bernadette Dillon, “The diversity and inclusion revolution: Eight powerful truths,” reveals that organizations with inclusive cultures are eight times as likely to achieve better business outcomes and six times more likely to be innovative and agile.
Daniel Sanchez Reina, Senior Director Analyst for Gartner, in the article Diversity and Inclusion Build High-Performance Teams, notes that diversity and innovation are correlated, “but inclusion is the key to leveraging diversity.” And, leaders are the linchpins to inclusion. In the Deloitte Insights article, Bourke and Dillon highlight what they call the “power of a leader’s shadow.” Leadership behaviors can “drive up to 70 percentage points of difference between the proportion of employees who feel highly included and the proportion of those who do not.”
But, for many leaders, exactly how to be inclusive is elusive. In an HBR article, The Key to Inclusive Leadership, Juliet Bourke and Andrea Titus cite their research indicating “only one in three leaders holds an accurate view about their inclusive leadership capabilities.”
Every leader has the potential to be radically inclusive; creating a culture where people feel safe, valued, and a sense of belonging. Inclusive leadership is everyday actions done with eyes open and ears engaged. Inclusion happens when leaders know and treat each person like the unique and valuable human they are.
“Inclusion happens when leaders know and treat each person like the unique and valuable human they are.”
A truly inclusive culture begins with leaders with truly inclusive habits. Organizations can move the needle on inclusion by equipping leaders to act inclusively as part of their routine interactions with employees. Most people are just not aware of the biases that get in their way. It’s like being tripped up by invisible ghosts – you’re stumbling and just not sure why. This is where the human science comes into play.
Neuroscientist Beau Lotto in his book Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently teaches us that “Every decision you make in the future will remain grounded in history.” We draw on experiences to inform our actions and decisions today. How we treat others may be the result of perceptions formed by past events. Lotto’s research provides insight into how we can “use our brains to change our brains” by re-writing our past perceptions, so we make better decisions in the future.
The first step for leaders looking to act more inclusively is learning to surface, question, and recognize the impact of assumptions and biases on their behavior in certain situations or with particular people.
Seeing the implications of assumptions and biases kick starts an intrinsic drive; motivating leaders to ask questions like “what else might be true?” to replace unproductive perceptions with possibility thinking. They have formed a “new past” to reference when faced with these situations or groups.
With potentially limiting assumptions neutralized or replaced, leaders now need to get comfortable selecting and tailoring inclusive actions to fit their situations and the unique humans in their care.
Finally, leaders need methods and practice in the formation of habits to promote daily use of these inclusive intentional actions. To ensure habits stay ingrained, organizations are wise to design requiring environments rich with accountability and recognition for inclusive leadership.
Which brings us to the organization itself. Just as leaders desiring to behave inclusively bump into personal ghosts, organizations are haunted by the institutional ghosts of historic and systemic racism. In her Forbes post, Four Strategies For Moving Diversity, Equity, Inclusion And Belonging Beyond Lip Service, L’Wana Harris explains, “It’s your responsibility to reimagine and redesign your organization to create an environment where all of your employees can thrive. We must go beyond simple “inclusion” work and venture into the work that reforms and disrupts. Conduct an enterprise-wide audit for bias and discrimination.”
Organizations must identify and address the myriad causes of imbalance among employee groups. The key question to go after is, what are the business practices, systems, and processes tripping up the progress, engagement, and productivity of people of color, women, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented employee groups in our organization? Organizations with an inclusive culture spearheaded by inclusive leaders unlock the power of diversity to drive innovation needed for market success and for identifying and unseating inequitable business practices.
“The Diversity and Inclusion Revolution: Eight powerful truths by Juliet Bourke and Bernadette Dillon, Deloitte Review, Issue 22
Diversity and Inclusion Build High Performance Teams, Gartner, IT Leadership, September 2019
Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently by Beau Lotto
By Genevieve Daniels, VP Finance
The SEWI-ATD Board recently approved our 2021 budget. Most learning functions think about budgets solely in terms of expenses, but SEWI-ATD also has to generate revenue to sustain our operations. So, our budgeting process is an exercise in strategic planning and forecasting as much as resource allocation.
Our chapter has a tradition of budgeting and spending carefully. I am proud that as a Board we were able to adjust our 2020 operating plan due to the health pandemic. While many non-profits suffered substantial losses this year, SEWI-ATD managed our expenses carefully in order to have a financially stable year. Those efforts put us in a great position for 2021, as we look at how to continue serving our members.
Because we anticipate that the pandemic will continue to impact the economy, we planned a conservative income estimate of approximately $42,000, which is very small for a non-profit of our size. You’ll see in the graphs below that our 2021 budget relies on three primary sources of revenue: membership dues, sponsorship, and programming income. Having three major revenue streams gives us flexibility in an uncertain business environment.
We matched our conversative approach to income with our expenses, focusing on where we need to put resources in order to provide great value to our members and the regional talent development community. In 2021, you can expect to see SEWI-ATD expand our programming, improve our communication, and strengthen partnerships with other organizations in our community. Our 2021 budget also keeps us on target to reach our goal of 100% operating reserves by 2025., ensuring that the organization is fiscally sustainable for the long term.
Gen Daniels, VP of Finance.
From the CARA group:
Transforming instructor-led training to virtual learning is not going away anytime soon. Read our infographic that highlights the seven steps to transform from ILT to vILT.
Written by Andy Marris, CPTD; Learning & Development Manager for MRA
We have heard the word pivot a lot since the onset of the pandemic. And while this word may be a bit overused, it’s incredibly fitting for our trainers here at MRA. What was once mainly in-person activities, our hands-on classroom learning has moved to predominately online instruction.
This new way of training comes with a new set of rules, which have been written along the way. Instructors have had to get creative, figuring out how to make the learning components virtually appealing. The good news is, it’s working!
Here are a few new ways we work when it comes to MRA’s virtual learning.
We want to see your face. The obvious one and biggest game-changer is making a worthwhile face-to-face experience. It is important for attendees to have their cameras on, which makes them more engaged and regular contributors in class. It also helps the trainers read body language and know when people have questions or are getting lost in a meeting by the expressions on their faces.
It really can feel like a class. Trainers have the ability to use the whiteboard, capture ideas in real-time and send participants to breakout rooms, which mimics what trainers do in a physical room. And it’s not only similar to the classroom experience, but the virtual platform can be more efficient for getting small groups to talk.
Knowing breaks are important. Every 35 minutes the class gets a quick break. Everyone turns off their cameras, takes their eyes off the screen, stretches, and does what they need to do. Zoom fatigue is a real thing and breaks help learners refocus, reenergize, and get back to it.
The importance of a tech pre-meeting. Attendees are strongly encouraged to show up ten to 15 minutes before a virtual training session begins. This time is spent making sure everyone’s technology is working and to answer any questions on how to use the tools. COVID-19 has brought with it lots of firsts, and for many people virtual meetings are one of them. Knowing their technology is working before class begins eases participants’ minds, allowing them to focus on learning.
Learning gets creative. There are some things that cannot be replicated virtually—activities like touching materials, putting together a group puzzle, and shooting baskets blindfolded. MRA trainers get creative to simulate these learning points in a new way.
One new activity is a video game that allows people to be coached while shooting virtual baskets. Another is having participants talk through the process of making a peanut butter sandwich with the trainer following the verbal instructions. When the message isn’t clear enough the trainer may do the wrong thing. It’s a great way to watch someone try to make something simple and realize how the message needs to be very specific to get the right behaviors, highlighting the litany of ways people can misinterpret a message.
Training will continue moving forward and MRA is finding ways to make it happen. Interested in learning how to make it work for your organization? Check out our website for our virtual (and in-person) training options that are available to you, or call Andy Marris at 262.696.3409 to talk about a training plan for your company.
To read more blog posts from MRA, please access the MRA Edge publication.
We are excited to welcome three new board members to fill vacancies on the SEWI-ATD board.
Thanks for all three for volunteering to serve the chapter!
The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce has announced their next session in their Talent Matters series: a resource connection forum for participants to share information on talent retention and development challenges.
SEWI-ATD has partnered with MMAC on the Talent Matters series throughout the year. As part of your SEWI-ATD chapter membership, our members can attend MAMC events like this at the member rate--which means you can participate in this forum for free!
This virtual event will occur on Monday, December 7th from 11am-noon. Sign up now on the MMAC website.
Every year, the chapter recognizes one member with the Bob Von Der Linn Outstanding Chapter Service Award. This award is the chapter’s highest volunteer recognition; it celebrates a chapter member who exemplifies a commitment to the chapter and the talent development profession in our area.
Our chapter wants to build stronger relationships with larger employers in the area, and we need your help! We are forming a task force to build out our strategy for recruiting and engaging organizational members.
If you are interested in meeting large employers in the area or helping to design a marketing strategy, this is the perfect opportunity for you. This is a great chance to develop your skills at understanding customer needs, crafting a value proposition, engaging an audience, and project planning.
Interested, or want to find out more? Email Colin Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.
Contact Usadmin@sewi-atd.orgPhone: 608-204-9815Association ManagersSeth TrickelHeather L. Dyer, CAE