Empowering Women in the Age of COVID

While the pandemic has highlighted many staggering inequalities in our economic and social system, one of the most significant is its disproportionate effect on women in the workforce. To get a broad idea of the affect coronavirus has had on women, let’s look at some numbers.

So what does this mean for employers? It’s time to lean into strategies designed to empower, educate, and support women in their workforce.

Start with education

A critical factor in working against the inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic is to build awareness within your company and your community about the effects that recessions have on women and minorities.

The more awareness you build, the more effectively you can push your community towards working against those detrimental consequences.

Financial empowerment

One significant way employers can affect positive change is by developing wellness programs that focus on financially empowering their employees. The 2020 Workforce Benefits Report by Bank of America determined that because women and men have different financial goals, they also have varying challenges and needs.

According to that report, women are less likely to feel they have control over their credit card debt, citing it as one of their top three financial concerns. It found women are twice as likely not to have money left over after paying their monthly expenses, and saving for retirement was a top financial goal.

As employers develop wellness programs and benefits packages for 2021, these are critical components to keep in mind.

Consider implementing debt management support. As women are much more likely to have credit card and student loan debt than men, offering services to help them address their debt would be a targeted way to enable them to become financially stable in 2021.

Your employees may also greatly appreciate the ability to talk to an expert who can help them plan for their financial goals and mitigate challenges. Partnering up with a financial consultant who offers this type of support, enabling employees to become more financially literate, can help them gain long-term stability.

Holistic wellness

The pandemic hasn’t just taken a toll on financial situations—it also puts people’s mental and physical health at risk. To support your employees as they navigate the pandemic, consider offering assistance programs such as an EAP or virtual mental healthcare services.

Remember, wellness isn’t just financial, or mental, or physical. It’s a combination of everything. Employers who focus on supporting their employees in each category see increased engagement, loyalty, and productivity. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do. In times like these, businesses, employees, organizations, and communities all have to work together to protect and support one another. Together, we’re strong.

 

Photo by Marina Pissarova

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

Four Traits of Powerful Remote Teams

Learning new things is always a challenge. And they’re even more of a challenge when everyone has to learn them all at once. Imagine working for a company where everyone was hired within a week. No one would have any support or experience. It would be chaos!  

That’s the way many companies felt when they had to make the switch to remote work at the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone was scrambling, very few were prepared, and there were many mistakes, followed by halted projects, increased frustration, and uncertainty.  

 As with many things, it helps to model yourself after those who have been successful in doing what you’re attempting to do. And while you may have worked out the major kinks in the first few months of working remotely, it pays off to delve deeper and take a look at the foundation of how you’re running your remote team.   

Here are four traits that successful remote teams have in common. 

1. Individual empowerment 

For remote employees to be their most effective, they need to have a fair amount of freedom to take the lead on their work. Managers and team leaders aren’t as available to hop on issues and get questions answered as they would be in an office. Allowing your team members the leeway they need to find the answers to their own questions, create direction for themselves, and take the initiative whenever they can will help them in more ways than one. Having the ability to take the initiative will: 

  • encourage employees to take more ownership over their tasks 
  • motivate employees to become self-sufficient, creating room for professional development 
  • urge team members to reach out to one another (instead of the boss) for direction and help, increasing collaboration and team involvement  
  • create a more efficient team that only brings challenges to the boss once they’ve run out of ideas and solutions, freeing up time for the team leader to focus on their own work

2. Time for fun  

Like any on-site team, your remote workers need time to relax in a social environment with each other. Creating a virtual happy hour, end of week check-in meeting, or virtual games can help your team feel more connected and engaged with one another.  

People working remotely who say they struggle with it often point to feeling isolated and disconnected. Successful remote teams take this seriously and make efforts to create time for employees to connect. Even if you don’t have a weekly happy hour on your calendar, consider encouraging your team to take a minute or two to chat about non-work related things before a meeting begins, just like you would do in person. This practice creates a critical moment of social connection and mental break from an otherwise quiet and focused day. 

3. Strong core values 

One of the most effective ways to help your team stay aligned and engaged with your company is to develop them around a set of core values that your company holds. Integrating your company values into your onboarding process, your communication, your goals, and your employee (and customer) experience is a wonderful way of creating a mental foundation for your employees to work off of.   

When your employees are familiar with your company’s core values, they can make informed decisions around how they should approach challenges and problems, meet their own goals, and set expectations around how they should be working on their team. Strong core values create a roadmap for employees to follow that provides clarity and a sense of understanding around their function within your organization. This is particularly important with remote employees who need a strong connection with your company to feel connected in their roles while working from home.  

4. Work-life balance 

While working from home can lead to increased productivity and engagement, it can also mean that employees struggle with creating boundaries between work and their personal lives. Without the physical distance between home and office, there is a literal lack of separation between work and life that remote workers experience daily. Employees who can’t step away from their work while at home may start to burn out.  

Set very clear boundaries around when employees should be available. Encourage your team leaders not to answer or send emails after 5:00 pm and to discourage their team members from doing so. Work a healthy work-life balance into your core values and set the expectation that your employees don’t work on their days off or in their free time. Boundaries will help employees feel more comfortable stepping away from their work and allow them to take the time they need to lead a healthy life.  

Keep on keeping on 

As you continue down the road of remote work, check in frequently with your team to find out what is and isn’t working. Keep a running list of the challenges your employees come across and check back with them about their progress. Keep tabs on what other companies are doing and look for new solutions and ideas to keep your team fresh, engaged, and happy. Like anything, it takes practice, patience, and perseverance. Keep working at it, keep talking to your team, and keep trying new things. Eventually, you’ll find your swing. 

 

Photo by alphaspirit

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

How to Effectively Manage a Team of Quick-Starts

In the world of company culture, what makes an individual employee effective doesn’t necessarily translate to what makes a team effective. If you have a group of people who all share the same strengths, your organization will suffer because successful teams need different experiences and strengths to balance the dynamic.

If your team consistently has issues with project completion, work overload, and loss of ROI on projects, then you might be dealing with a team of quick-starts. Or, in laymen’s terms, people who thrive on quick, future-oriented thinking, innovation, urgency, and generating a lot of ideas.

Quick thinkers, with high energy and enthusiasm, they don’t shy away from a challenge. But they may end up with too many projects and ideas to complete in an orderly way and may allow essential things to get lost in the chaos.

If this sounds familiar to you, there are few things you can do to help create that essential balance your quick-footed team needs to work efficiently and effectively. 

Consistency is key

 

If your team is made of fast-paced, quick thinkers and even faster do-ers, you may find they resist what feels too slow for them. The problem is that many activities that are essential to growing a healthy company need consistency and deliberate, steady action.

 

Marketing, for instance, requires planning, persistence, and patience. While your team may get through the planning part, they may begin to itch for something new before they’ve given the activity enough time to be effective. You can address this kind of urgency and impatience in a few ways:

  • Create a system of accountability and team engagement where team members have time to check in on one another’s projects, uncovering areas of collaboration and gaps to be filled. This will bring new energy into a project and help team members keep themselves on track.
  • Have your team members outline personal goals and goals for their role within your organization. Set up quarterly reviews to evaluate their role and the projects they worked on in the context of the bigger picture of the organization. It will help them maintain a consistent vision for their role within your company and stay on track and aligned with company goals.

Creating much-needed consistency will help keep your team’s feet on the ground and moving at a steady, sustainable pace.

 

Ideas, ideas, ideas

 

People with a high capacity for creativity and idea generation tend to be excellent assets to any company. They push innovation and help organizations stay competitive. But new ideas are only great if they aren’t eating up the time you need to accomplish your previous ideas.

 

If someone comes up with a new idea, before any work is done on it, take these three steps:

  1. Evaluate current projects to identify if they still need work, and if so, how much needs to be done before the lead is ready to move on to something new.
  2. Define exactly how this idea/project connects to your company vision, brand, and goals. If it doesn’t hit every mark, put it aside until it does.
  3. Reference similar ongoing projects and evaluate whether this idea adds value by itself or is redundant and unnecessary.

Rethink your next hire

While you may not be hiring now, it’s essential to evaluate where your current talent is lacking in strength and plan for your next hire. Hiring for diversity in thought, experience, and talent is the surest way to build a capable team. If your team seems to be struggling with the same types of issues, it’s worth rethinking your hiring process and identifying where you might be going wrong.

We all have biases and tend to want to surround ourselves with people like us. This can be a detriment to your company culture and effectively stifle your team’s potential to grow and evolve into a more efficient, powerful group.

To identify gaps in talent, consider having your current employees take assessments such as Predictive Index or Kolbe A Index to determine what types of strengths you should look for in a new hire that compliment what you already have on your team.

It’s in the people

Whatever strengths or weaknesses your team possesses, do your best to be as objective and aware as possible. The best leadership comes from an honest place that can accurately identify and maximize strengths each person brings to the table. Remember, your team members are human and need your support and guidance. With the right nurturing, leadership, and culture, you can turn your team into the powerhouse you know it can be.

 

Photo by Lukas Gojda

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

 

Don’t Panic! How to Stop Reacting in Crisis Mode

The pandemic and the economic downturn that followed put many businesses in shaky situations. It’s not the first, or the last, time in history that business leaders will navigate uncertainty. Businesses have been succeeding and failing since capitalism began. It’s a fact of life when you go into business, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.

Many businesses that could have won during this new normal lost due to poor and reactive management. If business crises have been happening since the dawn of capitalism, why is it that businesses keep going under for the same reason?

Because humans run businesses, and humans are emotional, fallible creatures.

Breaking news: A crisis hits

When a crisis hits, whether it’s external (a pandemic) or internal (a sudden change in leadership or loss of a major client), “business as usual” ceases to exist.

We stop everything and focus on survival.

Leaders focus on the problem in front of them and how to solve it. They go into reactionary mode. Sometimes, that’s necessary. Staying in reactionary mode long-term, however, can hurt a business. This type of mindset leads to jumping from one thing to the next, trying to put out fires on the outskirts while neglecting the core of the company.

Stop wasting your time

When we feel threatened, we look for solutions to protect us from that threat. That is a good thing. When we constantly feel threatened, it causes the need for immediate solutions to snowball, gain speed, and draw us away from our core goals. Here’s an example:

John’s pipeline is empty, and his business has little to no online credibility. He deals with this by deciding to:

  • Build a website
  • Create marketing materials
  • Educate his list of contacts through emailing campaigns

As he throws himself into these projects, he:

  • Reads about SEO (whatever that is) and decides he must spend time on it
  • Comes up with three marketing campaign ideas to send out right now, complete with new graphics, tag lines, and logos
  • Emails his contacts about each new thing he’s excited about

A few months down the line, his pipeline is still empty. His contacts are confused and annoyed by his emails. His website doesn’t match his brand and isn’t gaining traffic. Why? Because amidst the excitement of finding all the solutions, and the solutions to go with those solutions, he failed to:

  • Start prospecting (getting referrals, calling leads, networking)
  • Define his brand
  • Set a clear plan and objective and stick to it

John got sidetracked by the solutions, and not the goals. If your goal is to get tied up doing a million things that might help your business, but that are time-intensive and complicated, then go down John’s path.

If you want to make substantial, reliable progress, slow down.

Get back to the basics

Whether or not you’re in a moment of crisis, the core of what makes a business successful is always the same. Aside from having a valuable, reliable product:

  • Do you have a strong brand, complete with company values, vision, and voice?
  • Are you able to understand your customers’ pain points and needs?
  • Are you able to successfully communicate with your customers?
  • Do you have a healthy company culture?
  • Are you getting prospects and leads?
  • Are you spending time each day prospecting those leads?

Focusing on the core needs of your business is the best way to get you through a crisis. While some pivoting may need to happen, if it’s done without tying back to a core need and goal, it’s going to fail. Or, at the least, waste your time.

Take off the tunnel vision glasses

The frame of mind that helps us deal with a crisis by homing in on what needs to happen right now to avoid failure is not sustainable. When you’re feeling the anxiety of rising waters, stop looking for the one small plank that will keep you afloat and start looking for higher ground.

Create clear goals centered around your core business needs. Define how you will meet those core needs. Align each action you take to a core goal that meets a core need.

Don’t skip ahead. Don’t get distracted.

Keep moving, with your eye on the target, and your feet on the ground.

 

Photo by Volodymyr Melnyk

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

3 Things to Stop Doing on Video Calls Right Now

As organizations settle into the new world of virtual meetings, some have taken to the latest technology quickly, while some have struggled. And while most companies have figured out the basics by now, there are little things (that have a big impact), which individuals need to look out for to keep meetings professional and effective.

If you, or your team, are suffering from any of these video call etiquette mistakes, fix them now.

1. Bad camera angles

A common issue is retrofitting older technology. Some cameras are separate from the computer, resting on the desk or a shelf. If your camera isn’t at eye level, you’re setting yourself up for, at the very least, an awkward meeting.

Imagine looking into a screen of faces, trying to feel connected to each one. And then one of those images that should be showing a face is actually showing a view of a neck and chin or is peering down on its subject from above. While you can’t exactly make pure eye contact on a video meeting, you can place your camera at eye level, so when you look at and talk to the faces on your screen, those listening are looking directly into your face.

Eye contact, facial expressions, and body language are all critical parts of catching and holding the attention of others. Imagine trying to sell someone a product, or give critical feedback to an employee while they stare at the folds of your neck. Not a pretty sight. And not a way to make people feel connected to you.

Get that camera at eye level, and make sure you’re looking into it, for the good of everyone in your meeting. Your neck will thank you.

2. Browsing your computer

Even though you think you’re being stealthy, everyone can tell when you start browsing the web, checking your email, or working on a different project. Your face changes, your eyes stop focusing, and your body language starts to say, “I’m not listening.” Whether or not you think you can multitask, you’re eventually going to end up missing something or saying something that doesn’t make sense.

It’s not only disrespectful to everyone else on the call, but it turns efficient meetings into ineffective time wasters. You wouldn’t pull your phone out during a face-to-face meeting, so don’t do the equivalent just because you’re sitting in your living room.

3. Getting off-topic

One of the great things about video calls is the easy access to all your work, which you can bring up to show/share at your beck and call. There is something wonderfully efficient about pulling up related project documents for everyone to view simultaneously during a meeting. Screen sharing is great. And so is having all your material with you all the time.

But while it can be useful, it also opens the door for meetings to get off track. It’s easy to say, “Well, while we’re looking at this, I might as well show you this other thing that is sort of relevant but not directly on topic.”

Just because you have everything with you doesn’t mean it’s most efficient to talk about it all right now. One of the first rules of calling a meeting – whether in person or over video – is setting an agenda. If you keep finding yourself getting sidetracked by items that aren’t on the agenda, you’ve got a distraction problem that needs your focused attention to get back on track.

Don’t procrastinate

 While you may have put off making some of the fine-tuning adjustments to your video calling because of how quickly you had to adapt, it’s time to start thinking long term. Virtual meetings and working from home are here to stay, so you better get comfortable with meetings in front of a camera.

You don’t want to look around in six months and realize all your competitors or co-workers have their virtual meeting skills down to a T while you are still struggling. And luckily, it doesn’t take much to make the adjustments. And when you do, it makes all the difference.

 

Photo by Luis Molinero Martínez

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners