Monthly Archives: April 2017

Communication During The Chaos of Change

I am excited about all the changes within my company. With change comes growth, and with growth comes learning. I am learning a lot and have the opportunity to share with you all.

Here are a few tips on communication:

Be concise: Things are moving very fast for my organization, so it is key that I keep my communication with team members and management concise. I ensure my subject line states what I need from them and the e-mails are short—a few sentences.

Be clear: Keep it simple and clear. Ask for what you need and when you need it. For detailed emails, list the items in bullet point format with the most important information first.

Be casual: While transitioning into a leadership role, start by connecting with your teammates first. Project details will follow once you have built the relationships. Here is a link to my blog about 7 Guidelines for Global Project Management.

Be Collaborative: If there is an urgent situation that needs attention, pick up the phone and have a conversation. For conversations with two people, do a three-way call or Skype. Don’t lose time by using e-mail or waiting for a status meeting.

Be confident: As a leader, your team is looking to you as the Subject Matter Expert. Take the time to know your project as part of the transition. Your management will also be looking to see how you are doing and if you fit the role. Make sure you are on top of the key issues, resolutions, and project updates.

What communication tips have worked for you? Please share at: info@telecommuterstalk.com

How to Manage the Chaos of Change

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have—and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”
— James Belasco and Ralph Stayer
Flight of the Buffalo (1994)

With reorganization, there is a lot of uncertainty—here are a few ways to manage it. These tips are useful for any changes in your life:

Meditate: There is enough research on the benefits of meditation. For most working parents, the challenge is finding the time to do it. Even a five-minute meditation will have a positive impact on you. Try and find a time that works for you—any time during the day works.

Exercise: Exercise is as important as meditation. Find the time to fit some cardio, strength training, and yoga into your schedule. Here’s my article on How to Fit in Exercise While You Work Remotely.

Plan your days: Set aside the first 30 to 40 minutes of each day to plan your day. I have used this strategy for a while, but with the changes and everything being a priority at the same time, it has become even more important. I pick the top three items I need to complete on a particular day, both professionally and personally.

Take breaks: Breaks build resilience. After exercising, you need rest; the same is true with work. After some focused work, you need to take a break—even if it is only for ten minutes. As telecommuters, this is harder, but add it to your calendar and stick with it.

Sleep: Stress has a direct impact on sleep. Ensure you are getting enough rest to be productive during the day. If you are having sleep challenges try these poses to help you sleep better.

Be flexible: You need a plan to continue forward, but you also need to be flexible to accommodate the changes. Your priorities can change based on the demands of your project or management needs. Account for that in your schedule. One option is to keep your Friday afternoons open, and use that time to catch up or address any urgent request that has come up.

Ask questions: Sometimes, the deadlines imposed on you may be due to someone else’s work style instead of a true urgency. Identify team members who have a tendency to set unrealistic timelines and ask questions. Ask for a specific due date and notice due to other priorities.

What tips have worked for you? Please share at: info@telecommuterstalk.com

In-Person Conversations to Have During Reorganization Phases

Reorganization means changing how everything works. Change is good, but also creates a reason to be more vigilant about your career, your priorities, and your focus on growth. Change can be a time to ask what you want from your career.

During my recent in-person meetings, we had a few of these conversations that I want to share with you:

What is your new role?: Get clear directions on your roles and responsibilities for the new assignments. Use a Gantt Chart or MS Project for you and your new team. Account for schedule changes, hours of operations, additional meetings, and time zone impacts.

What are the other team members’ roles?: If your new responsibilities entail a leadership role, understand the roles of each person on your team and the extended team. If it is a global team, understand their location, time zones, and culture.

What is the transition plan?: If you are taking over an existing project, ensure that you ask for a transition plan with the latest updates on each section of the project. I have used Excel for this purpose with success.

What is the transition timeline?: In addition to the plan document, you will need to agree on the duration of the transition. If you will be managing a complex project, account for a few months of transition. New items will come up just when you think you have wrapped your head around the various pieces of the project.

When is the transition meeting?: Meet with your manager and teammates involved with the transition. Have the document updated and ready to share. Review the document, and confirm that both managers and employees understand the tasks and approve of the plan.

What communication channels do we use?: Decide on one or two communication channels for urgent situations. Find out what works for the team, and, if possible, come up with one channel that works for everyone.

Please share additional tips that you may have at: info@telecommuterstalk.com

Background Information You Can Gather During In-Person Meetings

I’ve mentioned in my previous posts that my organization is going through some changes. As I go through the changes, I am learning a lot and want to continue sharing what I’ve learned with you.

Recently, I had to attend a few Town Hall meetings and strategy sessions in-person, and here is what I learned:

What you hear on the phone may not be accurate: As a remote employee, what you hear on the phone or see via e-mail may be just half the story. Keep in touch with your teammates offline to get additional information.

Example: A friend/colleague was working on the most important project in the organization, and I was convinced that she was having fun. When I asked her how her cool project was going in person, the look on her face confirmed that it was not that great.

All requests are urgent: Changes involve a learning curve and chaos. I would question why I was being asked for the same information multiple times. When I was there, I realized that my management did not have time to find the information in their inbox and things were moving a million miles an hour.

Example: I received a call at 7 am to present to my VP that morning. I also had other important meetings that morning and needed urgent information before the discussions. I could not find the time to text or email my teammate for information. I gathered the information and presented to the VP in a timely manner.

You are monitored: How you dress and how you behave come into play when you go in-person. I think this is the case for all employees, but managers of remote employees need to ensure that you are stable.

Example: Women tend to maintain good attire by default, but managers also take note of your overall appearance, professional behavior, confidence, and interactions. The expressions you might make while on the phone need to be toned down during in-person meetings.

Please share any examples you may have at: info@telecommuterstalk.com

How to Manage Organizational Changes as a Telecommuter

Change always comes with opportunities. Professionally, there are many changes happening for me right now. I have the opportunity to do new work, find a new position, and create new connections. I want to take this opportunity to share with you what I am learning as part of this process.

Speak Up: Make sure that you speak up and share your thoughts on your part of the project or the overall plan as transitions are underway. It is best to provide input when you can make an impact—which is at the beginning. As a remote employee, you will need to be even more vocal than usual to make your case.

Ask Questions: Transition is a time of flux, and you need to ask clarifying and direct questions for you to understand the impact on your job. Managers are usually able to discuss some information; if they cannot discuss it, they can inform you of the same.

Stay Connected: Continue your conversations with your manager during one-on-one meetings. Lync your teammates and stay informed. Attend all the meetings that discuss the changes in your organization, since they will have an impact on you, even as a remote employee.

Update Resume: If you are looking for new opportunities, update your resume and add search agents to your company’s internal HR site. Alerts will give you access to new job openings right in your inbox. Continue talking with your mentor to work on your next steps.

Avoid Rumors: Being remote can work to your advantage, since you are not physically there to stop and listen to the conversations going on in the office. Try not to get pulled into the rumor mill. If you have questions, ask them directly to your management chain, since they will have the most accurate information.

Change is the only constant, and we need to keep going! Please share any suggestions that have worked for you at info@telecommuterstalk.com.