How To Manage A Remote Workforce

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Most people would love the option of working remote, but what about managing a remote workforce?

It’s hard enough to manage people in the same location, but doing it remotely will test your creativity and leadership ability.

The book Remote gave me a deeper understanding of why remote work can be beneficial, but currently I have the challenge of managing a team spread out across the country. Here is what has worked over the past 3 months:

Trust – If there’s one scenario where micromanaging will destroy you it’s managing a remote team. Telecommuting lives and dies on trust. Give it to receive it. Be clear about the objectives, but offer autonomy for how to get there. Most companies make the mistake of hiring based on experience and skill set whereas attitude and motivation determines which workers are elite. Working remotely is the perfect hybrid between corporate and entrepreneurship. To take it a step further, if all managers were trained to lead as if their team wasn’t on location (even if they are), performance would skyrocket.

Connection – Avoiding commuting and parking is beneficial, but feeling isolated is downright scary. The most overlooked aspect of working from home is the lack of social interaction. It’s near impossible to replicate a virtual water cooler, but you have to try. Communication platforms such as Slack are step in the right direction. The key here is building community. That normally happens outside of work, so encourage employees to develop relationships informally, even set up the connections for them. As their manager, you’re the bridge to the company. Tying remote teams to something bigger than them is essential. Think outside the box and get suggestions from your team to form stronger bonds.

Feedback – It’s not abnormal to not talk to your boss daily, but managers of remote teams need to over-communicate or risk strayed performers. Without clearly defined markers, there’s no absolute way to measure progress. If you think managing people is difficult, it’s much more daunting when they live thousands of miles away. Leading a remote team is high-maintenance, but if done right the global talent you can amass is far greater than the limits of a morning commute. Make a note to email almost daily (depending how many are on your team) and meet via video weekly. Providing direction goes a long ways towards overall success.

So far the short journey has been extremely enjoyable. If you love developing people, the nuances will reveals themselves over time. Keep an open ear, communicate frequently and create a sense of belonging. Scaling leadership isn’t easy, but it’s the wave of the future.

Naked Leadership: Stripped Down To Its Purest Form

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When’s the last time you got naked?

I’m not talking about the shower, but as a leader.

Leadership stripped down to its purest form is: relationships.

As a former Youth Pastor employed at a church (Non-Profit Organization) naked leadership is void of power and money. Most workers are volunteers which means leverage boils down to what they think of their leaders.

For example, leaders can only ask from their people what they are willing to do themselves. It’s leadership by showing. Do as I say, but not as I do never works.

Today’s managers use coercion to get things done a certain way, but that “carrot and stick” method only works for so long.

In order to truly unlock the potential of those under your care you have to help them realize their strengths then put them in a position to succeed. That means trusting them by offering autonomy with clear objectives. Allowing people to make mistakes and learning from them.

Leading and develop people can be two different things. Naked leadership is about showing people you care before telling them what you know.

Think about your favorite leader. It may be someone you are close to or admire from afar. What they share is their genuine care for the wellbeing of people over results. In order to accomplish that as a leader you have to be secure enough to allow people to fail in order to succeed.

Naked leadership goes back to recess on the playground as a kid. No one appoints the leader, he or she just asserts themselves. That’s just the opposite of positional leadership which focused on titles, not earning the respect of others.

The difference between naked and positional leadership is longevity. Retention is about loyalty as much as it is about pay or perks. How employees act when their leader isn’t around is a true test of their allegiance.

Naked leadership means there is nothing to hide. It can be scary, but ultimately revealing at the same time.

Are you a naked leader?

Your Career Runny Egg Moment

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I love burgers. Have you ever tried a fried egg inside your burger?

If not, you haven’t truly lived…

One of my favorite burgers is the Original from Slater’s 50/50: 50% beef 50% bacon patty. avocado mash. chipotle mayo, pepper jack cheese & a sunny side egg on a brioche bun.

The ingredients mesh perfectly, but the highlight of the culinary experience is the initial puncture of the yolk, it runs down the center of the burger and you have to take a bite before it drips on your plate.

My description may not be doing it justice, but it reminds me of a parallel in your career.

Similar to the moment the yolk breaks, there is a moment in time where opportunity strikes.

For example, it happens in the job search process: you’d love if employers gave you a timeline once you applied/interviewed, but that rarely happens (even if it does, it’s inaccurate).

Meanwhile you continue to apply for more positions hoping the “yolk” breaks on your preferred timeline.

Truth is you have little control over the process.

Do your research. Prepare for the moment. Brand yourself clearly.

Your next career prospect is all about timing.

It’s a numbers game. If you apply to one job and wait, you’ll be miserably waiting (and severely disappointed if you’re rejected).

On the other hand if you apply to multiple positions, network like crazy and follow-up like a mad man (or woman) something will eventually break when you least expect it.

Life is all about timing.

You never know when your career runny egg moment will come, but when it does will you be ready for it?

Why Startups Are Overrated

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Follow your passion. Chase your dreams.

Bad advice depending on your age/life stage.

The startup life is glorified from the outside, but those inside the ropes think differently.

Your corporate 9-5 job may suck the life out of you, but imagine working 40+ hours and getting paid less.

Think the grass is greener on the other side? Try turning grass over. It’s brown.

Similar to entrepreneurship and parenting, everything you see/read/learn doesn’t equate to first-hand experience.

Working for a startup is grueling. Long hours for little pay isn’t for everyone. Age/life stage should be your determining factor.

In your 20’s your career is most important, so working hard for something you believe in takes priority.

In your 30’s relationships (dating/marriage/family) are most important, so working hard to support your desired lifestyle take priority.

In your 40’s planning for retirement is most important, so working hard to secure your future takes priority.

Startups are ideal for people in their 20’s or younger. Fewer responsibilities means less concerns about work life balance.

Once you enter your 30’s boundaries become important. The difference lies in what you do after work: going to the bar with friends vs. going home to see your family.

There’s nothing wrong with chasing the American dream, but the better question to ask is: when are you chasing it?

Why The 40 Hour Work Week Needs To Die (Part 2)

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Have you ever wondered where the 40-hour work week originated?

Henry Ford actually scaled it back from 48 hours back in the early 1900’s.

The fact we have to go back almost 100 years shows how outdated the model is.

Recently Amazon is in the news for enforcing the 30 hour week, at a reduced rate, yet it’s a step in the right direction.

Sweden boasts a 6-hour workday which is based on research that a person is only productive for 6 hours a day anyway.

I’ll take it a step further and propose a four-day, 24 hour work week.

Salaries would decrease, but in the gig economy most people earn additional income from a side hustle. Corporate wellness exists mainly because of the negative repercussions of over-worked, stressed and distracted workers. Reducing the work week to 24 hours would nearly eliminate sick days, burnout and lack of productivity.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, stop upholding tradition and start focusing on results. With the advancements in technology, scaling “human” work stands true also.

Although Millennials are leading the charge, lifestyle matters more than passion. We work to support the type of lifestyle we want to live. The quicker companies embrace that, time spent/off becomes the greatest currency.

In business, we must evaluate our current procedures to see if there is a more efficient way it can be done. Sweden and Amazon are leading the way, the rest of Corporate America needs to catch up.

Keeping Your Millennial Workforce Happy

Guest post by Faith MacAnas

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One of the key features of the millennial generation is their focus on job satisfaction and life fulfillment is a lot higher than their predecessors. Happier employees have a better and higher quality output; this has made the necessity for employee satisfaction strategies more important than ever. These following examples are just a few areas where adjustments can be made that will motivate your millennial workforce and optimize your business.

• Flexibility

For the first time, young workers are prioritizing their work-life balance over their paycheck. They want to be able to travel, balance their family and social life or pick up side projects. While full remote working conditions are inadvisable, providing some level of flexibility is a great tactic. This offer could come in the form of career breaks or simply the opportunity to work alternate hours from home on occasion.

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    Crisp Technology

Millennials have grown up at the forefront of technology; they have always had the latest editions and expect their technology to be in good working order. Companies that can’t afford the latest pieces now allow staff members to work on their own devices. While this can save money, it does also require ensuring the security of confidential company data on machines that will leave the office. You can guarantee protection by investing in a company-wide Virtual Private Network program for all staff members to use or by creating an internal system where work can be shared exclusively.

    Career Paths

Today’s young workers live in a shaky economy, and they know it. While they worry about the promise of work, they also will quickly jump ship if their jobs don’t appear to provide them with the opportunity to progress. Give your millennial workforce a voice; allow them input into innovation ideas and company policy. Ensure feedback channels are open, and offer opportunities for training courses or department transfers. Show that you are willing to invest in them, and they are much more likely to invest in you and your company.

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    Cash Incentives

If all else fails, then there’s one language everyone speaks: cash. Nothing gets motivation going like the promise of a bonus, and there are none who don’t relish the opportunity to make more money. However, there are both pros and cons to this strategy. If, for example, you set a goal for workers to achieve to secure the bonus, and they do not succeed, it’s possible to disenfranchise them further. It’s wise to set goals that are both realistic and progressive.

Millenials are some of most forward-thinking workers around today. They naturally possess crucial knowledge and hold to the key to the future. If you haven’t already implemented strategies to ensure you keep them motivated and dedicated, then now is the time to start doing so!

About the Author: Faith is a blogger and marketing and strategy expert. She specializes in internet security. She enjoys sharing what she’s learned with other business owners online.

My Achilles Heel As An Entrepreneur

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5 years ago I tore my left Achilles tendon while playing basketball.

Like the stories I heard before, it felt like someone kicked my calf from behind.

When it happened it didn’t hurt, but I knew something was wrong. I remember grabbing my cars keys and limping to the car. It was a 6 month recovery to get back on the basketball court.

Post-recovery I’ve never been scared of re-injuring myself, but I’ve become much more in tune with my body. If my Achilles feels sore, I don’t push my body. I listen to it.

As an entrepreneur, I have a Achilles heel too.

Leaders create a “wake” of relationships built and tasks accomplished. What I realized is the one that means more to me determines the trajectory of my career.

I’ve had my business for almost 10 years now experiencing ups and downs financially. Starting out I was willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. It was my own startup that I was willing to work overtime for and be underpaid purely to build my “brand.”

But being married and 2 kids later my priorities changed. Time became the most important currency and I’d rather spend time with my family than always work hard. In work-life balance terms, I want a separation between the two.

I always believed working a full-time corporate job meant waving the white flag…settling. I did everything I could to avoid it, until about a month ago.

Reluctantly, I took a position at a tech startup because there was “no good reason not to.” Not exactly inspiring stuff, but the truth.

Fast forward to now, I realize it was the right decision.

The side of the wake that matters more to me is: relationships. If it were tasks, I believe I’d never take my current position because I would have already been rich.

What I realized is money is more important than people. Some say that, but my actions validate it.

The thought of a 9-6 was nauseating even a few months ago, but I started listening to my heart.

Not only am I enjoying the work I do (similar to the coaching I’ve been doing), but once I leave the office I leave my work there. That’s something I could never do as a business owner.

Do I still coach? Yes. But around my full-time job.

My Achilles heel as an entrepreneur is my love for connection. It’s much stronger than my desire to sell.

I still love to dream up and implement new ideas, but not at the cost of a steady paycheck and allowing my wife to stay at home with our kids.

I haven’t given up on entrepreneurship.

I just became more in tune with my desired lifestyle.

Work Life Balance Simplified To One Word

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Boundaries.

The only way to separate your personal from professional life is to define your boundaries.

Boundaries are hard to identify until someone crosses them.

The reason work-life feels like a blur is because you allow it.

As an employee it’s a constant tug-of-war with management. You have to draw a line between what they want and what they can legally expect of you.

If you’re an entrepreneur, no paycheck is guaranteed so you have to hustle more, but at what expense? Ask most business owners why they started their own company and most would answer with reasons other than money. But as your own boss, if you don’t draw the line, your boundaries will be abused.

Start defining what’s inside and outside of your boundaries. Stand up for what matters and what’s right.

In the end you have no one else to blame for work-life balance: except you.

How To Deal With A Micromanager

The dreaded micromanager.

We’ve all been under one, but the question is:

How do you deal with it?

Here are 3 ways to counter:

1) Results-focused – Micromanagers care about one thing: getting s**t done. That means “bulldozing” people in order to achieve more. Typically naive to people’s emotions, if under their leadership don’t take things personal. Micromanagers don’t have enough EQ to see the trail of blood left in their path. The way you feel after an encounter with them is how most people will describe an interaction. Focus on surpassing their lofty expectations by doing work. Accomplish that and you’ve earned favor.

2) Mirror – In most cases what you can dish is what you can take. This doesn’t mean treat your boss the same way he/she treats you, but be aware of their preferred style. They model what they expect to see in you. Ultimately you don’t have to copy them as long as you get #1 right (see above). Micromanagers view people as obstacles in their way. Don’t expect praise. No feedback is good feedback in their book.

3) Counterbalance – The first two points explain the makeup of a micromanager, but what you really need to know is how to compliment them. What you do different can make you stand out. For example, if your soft skills are strong you might be asked to put out fires. Micromanagers won’t admit their weaknesses out loud, but they’re aware of them. Position yourself as an ally to their cause and you automatically level up. Strategy is key here.

Micromanagers won’t change so you have to adjust your ways. Control issues stem from a sense of insecurity which means you must be grounded to combat them. No one likes to be micromanaged, but if you learn how to deal with them work can become much more tolerable.