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The five top leadership issues to watch out for in 2018

Happy new year everyone!  I hope your 2018 is already off to a fantastic start, both on the personal and well as professional fronts.  I’m excited to be kicking off a new year on the blog, looking forward to another great year of sharing tips and exchanging ideas, starting conversations and perhaps even some arguments, all in the pursuit of becoming even better leaders than you already are!

My first day of the new year came with a special bonus — my first 2018 column for The Globe & Mail was published in their New Year’s Day edition, both print and online!

The five employee-related trends that will gain the greatest momentum in the upcoming yearThe Globe & Mail, January 1, 2018

In The five top leadership issues in 2018, I make my predictions for the top five employee-related trends in the upcoming year.  My goal in creating this list of top-of-mind leadership issues was to give you insights as to where you should focus and emphasize your energy and effort as you go boldly into the future.  My forecasts come predominantly from two sources – from hundreds of conversations I have had with people in organizations this past year (including likely you), all the way from senior executives to front-line workers, and from my ongoing perusal of a wide variety of publications and academic journals. None of these five issues that I outline in this column are new; in fact, they’ve been gradually gaining traction for the past several years. But in 2018, I anticipate that attention to these five areas will gain the greatest momentum.

So take a read through and tell me what you think.  Is this what you’re seeing in your workplace as well?  The Globe has temporarily turned off commenting on articles while they resolve some technology issues, so you can’t comment directly on their site.  But I’d love to hear your thoughts right here on the blog.  Please add your perspectives on the top leadership issues in 2018 by leaving a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

Sometimes, The Globe puts my columns behind their paywall. If that happens and you are unable to access the article directly through the link above, we have archived a pdf version at this link.

Long-distance leadership tip #8: don’t forget about career planning for remote employees

Back in mid-April, I started a series of video tips on long-distance leadership, giving you one each week.  Last week’s strategy was to remember to praise your staff regularly.  I am planning a new series of tips to start shortly, so this week’s tip will be the final one (at least for now) in this sequence. Today’s idea: don’t forget about career planning for your remote employees.

Career planning is just as important for remote employees as it is for those in the office

When you have staff that work from a distance, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking – “why mess with things if they’re going well?”  But just like the people who are down the hall from you, your off-site employees have goals and aspirations.  And exceptional long-distance leadership means that you have to help them make progress on their goals for growth and advancement.  Even it means that you’ll have to lose them to elsewhere in your organization. Continue reading

Long-distance leadership strategy #7: don’t forget to praise!

Six weeks ago, I started a video series on specific strategies to lead virtual teams.  Long-distance leadership can be a challenge; because of physical distance, it takes more effort for a leader to build and maintain high performance in employees. Given the positive response I’ve received, I’m going to keep this series going for a while.  Last week’s tip was to set standards for response times for emails and voice mail.  Today’s strategy to improve your long-distance leadership is: don’t forget to praise your staff regularly.

Don’t forget to praise

Now sure, this strategy – praising employees – is no different than what you would do for your employees who are based in the office, but it’s even more important for your virtual staff.  Why?  Because when it comes to offering praise and feedback, off-site employees are usually the forgotten ones.  Continue reading

If you have off-site employees, set standards for responding to email and voice mail

Last week’s tip for being a more effective leader if some or all of your direct reports are off-site employees was to establish common working hours for at least a fraction of the day.  In our continuing series, today’s idea is to set standards for responding to voice mail and email.

Set standards for response times to voice mail and email

One of the most common complaints voiced by off-site employees is that they feel like communication is more difficult as they lose touch with their peers.  When you’re working virtually, maintaining connections is not as easy as just getting up and walking down the hall to confer with your colleagues.  Which means that there is a much greater reliance on the telephone and on email.  But there’s nothing worse to employees than when they leave a voice mail or send an email to someone in the department which then gets sucked up into the giant cyberspace abyss, never to be heard from again.  Continue reading

Have off-site employees? Establish common work hours for at least a fraction of the day

In today’s blog post, I’m back once again with another tip on how to work more effectively as a leader of off-site employees.  Last week’s advice was to be thoughtful about the communication medium you use.  This week’s tip is to establish common work hours for at least a fraction of the day.

Establish a common core time when all staff are available to each other

Think about establishing common work hours for at least a fraction of the day.  Granted, one of the great benefits for off-site employees is that they can work flexible schedules, but if you don’t establish at least a common core when everyone can be sure to reach one another, then collaboration can become very difficult. Continue reading

Communicating with your remote employees – be thoughtful about the medium

In our continuing series on how best to be an exceptional leader of remote employees, last week I blogged about the importance of getting to know them personally.  Today’s tip: be thoughtful about the communication medium you use.

Think about the medium!

Depending on what you are trying to achieve, certain types of communication work better than others.  As a general rule, the more direct and uncomplicated the situation, the written word can be more effective.  And the more complex and thorny the situation, a verbal conversation becomes a necessity. Continue reading

Build stronger relationships with your remote employees by learning more about them personally

For the last two weeks, I’ve been posting about strategies to work more effectively with your remote employees.  The ideas so far: set office hours and schedule weekly one-on-ones.  Today’s tip sounds fairly simple, but don’t let the simplicity lead you to think it’s ineffective.  In fact, just the opposite.

Get to know your remote employees at a personal level

Learn more about your remote employees.  Make it a point to get to know your team members at a personal level, more than just in terms of the work they do.  Learn more about their family, their hobbies, where they are from, where they want to go.  Continue reading

Strategy #2 for effectively leading your virtual team

Last week I started a new video series on leading a virtual team and my first tip was to set office hours, specific blocks of time in your calendar when your team members could call and expect to get your “live” on the phone.  Today’s strategy to get the highest level of performance from your virtual team members is an expansion of last week’s idea.

Schedule one-on-ones

Schedule weekly one-on-ones.  Give each member of your virtual team one full hour every week on your calendar for a one-on-one discussion.  Just you and the employee, either on the phone or on a video call.  This one hour allows both you and your employee to cover a variety of topics,.  You can really talk through issues that don’t get discussed simply because they don’t see you at the office every day.

And one very important thing: NEVER cancel a one-on-one.  Continue reading

If you have a virtual team, set “office hours”

It’s been a long time since I’ve discussed the challenges that are inherent in leading a virtual team.  In fact, my most recent post on this subject was Leadership from afar – four keys to making long-distance leadership work back in 2015!  Which is ironic considering that today there are even more employees working offsite and remotely than there were two years ago.  Which means that leading a virtual team is far more complex than it’s ever been.  If you have staff that work in other buildings, out of their home offices, or even out of their vehicles while on the road, the challenges of leadership start to multiply and compound.  Add different time zones to the mix, and long-distance leadership of a virtual team begins to take on a life and personality of its own.  The reality: physical distance between you and your employees will make them feel increasingly isolated UNLESS you take deliberate and thoughtful steps to give your virtual team a greater degree of support and feedback.

So this is the inspiration behind my next series of short 2-minute video tips, starting today, and airing every week or so until I either run out of ideas, or sense that interest from you, dear readers, is waning.

Today’s tip: set “office hours”

Remember when you went to university or college and your professors would set office hours – specific times during the week when you would be guaranteed to find the professor in his/her office and available to talk to you.  Continue reading

Leadership from afar – four keys to making long-distance leadership work

Human Resources And CRMThe last time I brought up the subject of virtual leadership on the blog was earlier this year in March when I penned Long-distance leadership? Insist that complaints be accompanied by recommended solutions. The Remote Leadership Institute recently reprinted one of my articles – Managing Virtual Teams: Four Ways to Overcome the Challenges of Long-distance Leadership – at their website, and their interest made me think that it is worth bringing up this very relevant topic again. In today’s workplaces, remote workers are more the norm than the exception. Some people work at home for one day a month or a week, others full-time, but it’s not just working from home that creates off-site employees. Other staff are virtual because they are geographically remote from their bosses, and salespeople who operate mainly out of their vehicles are working long-distance as well. It’s pretty much a given that virtual leadership is a necessary skill for leaders in today’s world of business. Continue reading