Tag Archives: pandemic

3 STRATEGIES TO ENHANCE COMPANY CULTURE IN A VIRTUAL WORLD

One of my favorite clients works in the manufacturing space, and lucky for them, 2020 was a great year. Despite the pandemic, they grew, added more staff, and increased profits by 32%.

Working together, we spent most of the early months of the pandemic navigating the consistent increase in demand. We spent our time helping over three-quarters of their staff learn to work remotely and the other one-third adjust to the new regulations and protocols to ensure a safe working environment.

For the first few months, company culture was the last thing on anyone’s mind. The team was engaged. Most of their employees were grateful to have a job, others driven by the urgent need to help their customers and team members. Pretty much everyone was willing to do whatever it took to keep the company growing.

Now we find ourselves 10-months into this crisis, and the tide is shifting. Team members are getting burned out and starting to disengage. They suffer from ‘Zoom fatigue.’ They struggle to achieve work-life balance, and they are getting frustrated.

For the first time since this pandemic began, the leadership team is wrestling with how long will this go on? How do we keep our team engaged? And how do we maintain and enhance our company culture in a virtual world?

Those are great questions that many leaders are challenged with today because building a culture and leading a team in a remote environment is different. It requires new strategies and a new set of ideas.

3 Strategies to Enhance Company Culture In A Virtual World

Before we jump in and start discussing the strategies you need to build and maintain your company culture, let’s talk about what culture is and why it matters, even more so in a virtual world.

Culture is the set of values and beliefs a company has. When your culture is strong, your employees not only understand those values and beliefs; they use them to drive their attitude, their behavior, and the experience they create for team members and customers. With a strong culture, you get a more engaged team, a more productive work environment, and more satisfied customers.

Now culture matters because employees are more engaged, more productive, and tend to stay longer when they work for a company whose values and beliefs are aligned with theirs. Let’s look at the facts: companies with winning organizational cultures have 72% higher employee engagement ratings. 65% of employees say their company culture is a deciding factor in whether they stay long-term or not, and 77% of employees believe a strong culture enables them to produce higher levels of work.

So, culture matters, and in a world where employees can work from anywhere and for anyone, giving them something to believe in, be a part of, and contribute to is one of the best tools you have to keep top talent.

There is so much value in investing in your company culture, so how do you get it right in a virtual world and working with a remote team?

1. Overly Communicate:

Very few leaders communicate enough and far fewer communicate enough in a virtual world. You have to realize the moment your team started working from their homes, they felt disconnected, shut off, and isolated. They are unsure of how your company is doing, what challenges you’re facing, what you are focused on for 2021, and how they can best contribute.

You need to be answering their questions, and much more. You need to ensure that you communicate with your team often and provide opportunities for them to communicate with you. Communication is a two-way street, and if you want to drive culture, you need to ensure your team is talking to you as much as you are talking to them.

BEST PRACTICES: Here are some of the best ideas we see successful leaders today putting into place.

Weekly kick-off video – the CEO starts each week with a video that lets the team know where the focus needs to be, what she expects of them, and then rewards and recognizes individual contributions.

Town Halls – monthly or quarterly, town halls with the CEO and/or leadership team allow employees to get relevant updates and, more importantly, ask questions, get first-hand information, and heard on significant challenges.

Monthly Financial Updates – humanizing the business model by allowing employees to learn from the CFO how the company makes money, what they can impact, and how their contribution directly connects to the bottom line. This does more than any other strategy we have seen to decrease expenses and drive revenue.

2. Create Connection:

Gone are the opportunities to grab lunch with a co-worker, tell a joke before the meeting starts, or participate in the monthly birthday celebration. What remote work has given us in productivity and efficiency has cost us in the areas of communication and relationship building.

People spend so much time at work, even if that work is remote. To be successful; they want to feel like they are connected to their co-workers, know their boss, and feel heard and understood by the people they work with. In a virtual world, you have to be more innovative to create that, and you have to build on those opportunities proactively.

BEST PRACTICES: Here are some of the best ideas we see successful leaders putting into place

TECH MATTERS – just like you invested in your office space, you need to invest in technology. If you want people to feel connected, they need to have the tools. Video is critical, strong audio is a requirement, and the right software and tools make it so much easier to engage.

CREATE SPACE – allow people to connect just like you did at work. Instead of the monthly pot luck dinner, create personal channels on your SLACK, TRELLO, or intranet accounts. Start rooms where team members can talk about their pets, taking care of aging parents, or what it is like to homeschool your kids in the age of COVID.

DONUT MEETINGS – beak the silos and communication issues by building relationships between departments and leaders you need to work together. Donut meetings are meetings set up between two and three team members who don’t interact regularly but need a better connection to work more effectively together.

3. Bind with Purpose:

At the end of the day, in a traditional or remote work environment, people want to do work that matters, and they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

If you want your team to engage, then you need to give them something to engage in. That something is a purpose, who you are, what you stand for, and the impact you are making.

BEST PRACTICES: Here are some of the best ideas we see successful leaders putting into place

BEGIN EVERY MEETING – and end every meeting reminding your team members of your purpose, and how what they are doing matters, the impact they are making.

REWARD/RECOGNIZE – team members and situations that underscore the importance of your purpose. Tell stories and develop case studies that detail how the company’s purpose is to create change and help people.

NORTH STAR – use your purpose and core values as your litmus test, your north star in deciding whom to promote, whom to hire, and what new initiatives to implement in your company. You show your team just how important the core values and purpose are and why they matter to the company’s success.

Your Culture Is Your Best Investment:

Yes, investing in building culture in a work environment can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. It is also one of the best investments you can make. One of the few advantages you have left in this constantly shifting and highly competitive marketplace is your team’s engagement level. Invest in your culture, and your team will invest in you.

Meridith Elliott Powell, Keynote Speaker, Best-selling Author, and One of the Top 100 Sales Experts on LinkedIn is an award-winning leadership and sales expert. Meridith’s cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge will make your audience laugh and learn as she walks you through the sales and leadership strategies you need to succeed. Meridith Powell is one of the most sought after Sales Strategist and Leadership Experts! Book Meridith Powell today: https://bit.ly/2Vvm4XG

NONPROFITS MUST RECOGNIZE REALITY

It’s time nonprofits come to grips with the present-day situation. We’re in a pandemic and there is economic stress. The circumstances nonprofits have been thrust into don’t have a clear end in sight and the challenges faced are likely to have long-lasting impact.

I write this not as a pessimist but as a pragmatic.

There are nonprofits not willing to accept the reality we’re in. Some have a mindset this is a short term crisis and business as usual will resume soon. Some are paralyzed by the uncertainty. Others appear set on continuing their same practices as if they’re oblivious to what’s happening around them.

Acknowledging the problem doesn’t mean adopting a defeatist attitude. It means recognizing this is a new time that will require new approaches to keep your mission moving forward.

Consider critical conversations with your staff and board to identify what matters most now and devote your attention to make that happen.

Rather than expending energy attempting to make where you were pre-COVID fit into where you are, focus on what’s in front of you right now. With the unknown exacerbated by rapidly changing conditions, long term planning may be defined in weeks rather than months or years.

Find ways to be creative, take advantage of available resources, pursue opportunities for collaboration, and make sure your messaging is appropriate.

The realist says we are where we are, understands where that is, and rallies their team around a positive direction that considers existing limitations.

As a nonprofit leader stay positive, keep working, and be safe.

Speaker and Author, Hardy Smith works with nonprofits and associations who want an ongoing culture of performance. A master storyteller, organizations across America have benefitted from Hardy’s extensive career in the world of Nascar racing. His involvement with nonprofits, volunteer and community based groups nationwide has earned him the title of: “The Guru of Nonprofits!” Hardy offers: Keynotes, Seminars, Workshops, Leadership Retreats, and Strategic Planning Sessions! Book Hardy today: https://bit.ly/2ZFALqb

THE PANDEMIC, MEASURED IN COFFEE CUPS AND COSTCO RUNS

The now infamous Quarantine of 2020 never had an official start date. Unlike Dec. 25, July 4, Feb. 14 and other calendar days synonymous with celebratory events, the world didn’t simultaneously lock its doors on one particular day and fire up Netflix.

Was it March 16? March 27? Did you hold out until early April before realizing that, because your favorite sports team was canceling its season and your beloved restaurant was locking its doors, maybe you should take this Anthony Fauci guy seriously?

For me, the quarantine began the day my wife returned from Costco, presented me with a 45-ounce container of Dunkin Donuts Medium Roast Original Blend coffee and said, “That ought to hold you.”

Her shopping run also contained the items Americans were grabbing as if the doors to a Brink’s truck had just flung open at 65 miles per hour, scattering $100 bills on the interstate. Toilet paper, sanitizing wipes and gargantuan containers of condiments vied for space inside her SUV. Should an asteroid smash into our home anytime soon, what’s left of my body will be coated in salsa.

How much Costco coffee is too much?

The label on the Dunkin Donuts java monstrosity stated I should be able to brew 150 cups. As someone who limits his caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day, and occasionally skips the beverage altogether in favor of tea or water, I calculated that I should be set for five months.

“Where will I be in five months?” I remember asking myself as I opened the container and scooped the first grounds into my office coffee maker. Surely, I’ll be traveling again, spending nights in myriad hotels as I’ve been doing for the last 25 years due to my profession as a corporate comedian and keynote speaker. With so much time away from my home office, it might be upward of a year before I needed to replenish my coffee supply, I estimated.

Yesterday, while preparing my lone cup, the coffee measuring scoop touched plastic. That’s right, I was approaching the bottom. And, as the coffee brewed, I realized how little had changed from the day I opened the container.

Costco has replaced hotels

There have been no plane trips or hotel stays. The only change to my morning routine was that I replaced the coffee maker’s charcoal filter after about the 60th cup. Five months after the country shut down, give or take a week, our routines have become so singular that we struggle to remember what they were like pre-pandemic.

Many of us can’t remember the last time we packed a suitcase. Bellied up to a bar. Visited a hair salon. Went to our closet and picked out a suit and tie or a cocktail dress. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I wore pants. Chalk that up to an inordinately warm Chicago summer and the fact that Zoom meetings and Skype video chats only require me to look presentable from the shoulders up.

And yet, I now consistently remember tasks that slipped my mind pre-quarantine. Watering flowers for instance. In previous summers, I would sometimes arrive home to dried up geraniums, as I erroneously assumed they could tough it out for 48 or 72 hours. Not so this year. Each day, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. they receive a drenching and have never looked better.

I walk the dog more, change the bed sheets more often and scrub my bathroom sink more frequently. I cook more, exercise more and watch more television.

Were COVID-19 to be eradicated from the earth tomorrow, I wonder how much of my new routine would remain. Would I return to neglecting the dog and the flowers? Or would I figure out some way to merge my pre- and post-pandemic lives?

Like the rest of the world, I am anxiously awaiting that day. In the meantime, I had better replenish my coffee supply.

Being an optimist, I’m going to stay away from Costco.

Greg Schwem’s comedic take on the 21st century workplace and work/life balance has landed him on SIRIUS RadioFOX News, Comedy Central,pages of Parents Magazine, and as a Keynote Speaker for many business audiences. More than just a business humorist, Greg is also an author and nationally syndicated humor columnist. Whether Onstage or Online: Book Greg Schwem today: https://bit.ly/3dQ1BDL