Skip to main content

15Five acquires Emplify and relaunches human-centered platform Learn more

Bite-Size Insights: How can leaders foster engagement in remote work environments

Dec 09, 2020 | 00:00

00:00 00:00

Episode Description

On this bite-size we’re joined by one of Emplify’s fabulous People Insights Consultants, Dustin Goeglein. Dustin was an early remote employee at Emplify, long before the pandemic made it the new normal. He’s the perfect person to help us answer the question, how can leaders foster engagement in remote work environments?

Listen via mobile app

google podcast logo icon



Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] Hey insights, listeners Nicole here. And thanks so much for joining me for this week's bite-size insights, empowering people, leaders with best in class information in 10 minutes or less. Now, hopefully you've been following our new webinars series and amplify, and next week we're wrapping up the series with our predictions for 2021.

Be sure to reserve your spot by going to That's E M P L I F All right. So for today's bite-size we are joined by one of amplifies fabulous people, insights consultants, Dustin Goeglein. Now Dustin was an early remote employee at amplify long before the pandemic made it the new normal.

And that is why he's the perfect person to help us answer today's question. How can leaders foster engagement in remote work environments? Let's hear what Dustin has to say.

[00:01:00] Work from home is not going anywhere. It's going to stick around. We know that it creates some problems and obstacles, but you still might be thinking. What am I actually looking for? And honestly, is there anything we can actually do about it? So we're going to be defining those pain points, and then we're going to talk about some creative solutions and those three pain points are organic interaction.

Work-life balance and accountability and support. So let's dive then to organic interaction. Two out of five people are reporting that they're meeting weekly with their managers, not necessarily a problem, right? That might be okay. Two out of three people are saying that they haven't gotten constructive feedback in the last month.

That might be more of an issue. Almost half of people taking the survey say they feel more disconnected with the organization's mission. That certainly is a problem, but you feel like you're communicating more now than you ever have. It's not that we're not interacting. It's the interactions now are planned.

They're scheduled, they're meticulously mapped out. [00:02:00] Everything's written down and on the calendar and the, Hey, can I schedule 15 minutes with you that hits different than when we used to run into each other outside of the bathroom. You know, we talked about my daughter's dance recital or how the bears got whipped by the Packers, um, or whatever.

It didn't matter or in a meeting, some you share a great idea and you look across the table and your VP has eye contact with you and is nodding and approval. That type of affirmation that doesn't translate to zoom. So it's not that interaction doesn't happen. It's that it's not organic anymore. And so I want to share a few things that I think will help on the individual side.

Give zoom a break. Zoom is not the end. All be all answer to 2020, despite what it seemed like early on, but we need to step away from zoom. Sometimes we need to call someone on a reg on a phone, on a regular phone, not Slack or Google phone. Call them on a phone, pace around your living room and talk to them.

We need to text each other. I know these feel informal, but again, I think that's some part of what we miss. Now. [00:03:00] I want to encourage you to skip scheduling. Not everything has to be formally scheduled. That phone call that text, that interaction get away from the calendar for a little bit. And then lastly, I just encourage you to throw in some curve balls, we get into these norms and ruts of communication, and it's no different with leaders.

Your people are probably expecting some specific questions out of you. They're used to hearing them, and I would encourage you to throw in some curve balls. So I do have a few examples, ask them on a scale of one to 10. What's your motivation level today? Or this week, you know, talk to me about it. Is it four or five?

And why do you give it that number? Ask them what they're proud of in the last month. Say within the last 30 days pick the thing you're most proud of professionally. Tell me about it. And if it's a good one to have them share it with the team, have them share it with the, with the organization or you could ask him, you know, do you think Netflix will go under once they stopped showing the office? It doesn't matter exactly what the question is. We need to start catching each other off guard again. It just feels like there's no surprises. So whether it's the [00:04:00] method, the timing, we need to surprise each other again, because it that's what feels organic. That's what feels authentic. As in we're pulled out of our norm, we're pulled out of what we expect and I'm a type a person.

So I hate being pulled out of my expectations, but I need it. We all need it. On the group side, we can be really intentional about this too. One thing my team has done amplifies. We isolate out our professional and personal conversations, and I know that goes against the number of the icebreaker, right? So icebreakers are great, but they can kind of flop.

They can make an awkward start to the meeting. Icebreakers can also be done too well, and they can derail good conversation or get you a late start. So instead of doing that. We have separated out. We shortened one meeting, it's all business, 45 minutes, all business. And on Wednesday morning, we meet for half an hour.

We have coffee, we have no agenda and it's optional. And even though it's optional, most of us show up and we just chat. And then lastly, I think the call to get creative is in the air. Happy hours are great. I mean, it's hard to find a [00:05:00] person who doesn't love a good happy hour, but there's more options outside of that.

Zoom, Pictionary gift exchange, tons of creative stuff to keep that interaction organic. Let's move on to work-life balance. We see this with our rest and capacity drivers and the manifestation of this is burnout. Burnout is not a new concept. I do think the causes have shifted dramatically since March. It looks different. Now over half of our surveyed employees made it to being burned out since working from home, not before, since getting there 60% of them say that they're having to work outside of their normal available hours. And another, roughly 60% say that work-life and home are combining and unhealthy ways.

I think we've all seen these issues creep up right? Work in life are a lot more mixed together these days. And I think the recommendation I'm going to give is not, I don't know if it will be popular well liked, but it needs to be said leaders, you set the precedence for this balance. And now I don't want to say that if someone burns out it's 100% your fault, the employees don't estimate the choice. However, [00:06:00] there's a lot of responsibility on your shoulders to set this precedence. Let's talk about a couple of practical examples, projecting your work hours, your sweet spots, eight to 10:30 PM. You love going through your inbox, making sure there's no flags, no unread emails. You got to start your next morning.

Solid that way. That's awesome. And you may send that email at nine 30 and say, Hey, don't feel like you have to respond. But here are my thoughts. Unfortunately, when I receive an email from my boss at nine 30, It doesn't matter what they say. There's an expectation that nine 30 is a work hour. Now I personally don't mind answering emails late, but that's not necessarily true of your whole team. A quick tip with that is to write the email, still working your sweet spot, delay, the email send to the next morning at 7:00 AM. Another probably more painful request. I just want and encourage you all. And this happens a lot. I know that leaders are doing this. They're encouraging their people to take time off.

I'm going to go back to the do, as I say, not as I do. If they hear you encouraging them to take PTO and have never seen you take a vacation day, [00:07:00] you're sending mixed signals. This is a difficult conversation because stopping work means that you have to turn your brain off. You have to unplug and trust other people or delegate to other people to get things done.

And that I know, I know that high performers and you all are high performers have always. And we'll always struggle with that, but I would encourage you to consider this, that you set that precedence. If you want your people to work that hard, continue on. If you have a desire and you see the need for your people to step back, please know that you might need to do that first.

All right. The third and last thing we're going to look at as accountability and support the sits, the goal support, autonomy and capacity drivers. And we have a little bit of contention here, right? Pre COVID studies say that actually there's mostly an uptake in performance. Most studies have shown that working from home is people are more productive.

And yet we also see that people are saying 60% of us are more distracted. I'm actually open to new opportunities. And I don't really see my manager's leadership skills improving. So it's creating this contention [00:08:00] point and. It's based on trust. I assume that trust exists in your working relationships with the people you lead, but much like if you consider a previous long distance relationship, you've had friendship, romance, family member.

When you part, you have to create new boundaries, you have to create new rules for the relationship. You have to have some really hard conversations and their working relationship is not different from that. You're not exempt from those things. There are hard conversations that need to have happened. And if they're not had, it's not that the trust that is already there is eroded it's there, but you've distanced that trust that bridge of trust needs to be extended.

And if it's not your relationship with your people, won't sustain. It won't remain what it was. And so there's some hard work ahead here too. And it starts with transparency, lean into transparency. Some of this is forced now, right? Like your child coming up during a meeting or your spouse is yelling at you because you didn't clean out [00:09:00] your cereal bowl, whatever it would be.

We all have this forced transparency. Now, like you can see my physical home. But we also own that. And if you lead people, if you can lean into that transparency, embrace it for the season. That will be step one into building this new level of trust in a remote environment. This is going to mean also once you have that trust that you're going to have to have the hard conversations you need to define what success and failure look like right now.

And you need to allow them to feel safe enough to share that maybe they're going to meet the bare minimum for awhile. Based on those definitions, have the conversation. Don't let it go. Don't let it be swept under the rug and not even just individually on your group meetings, ask the hard questions there to say, Hey, what's everyone's capacity look like this week.

Let's let's be honest with one another. Are you short? Do you need some help? Do you need support? I've been in team meetings where people say I have a really light week. Can I help out anyone need help with anything? Or ask where you dropped the ball, ask them here where their motivation levels are as you [00:10:00] flex that muscle.

And you work that out and you build that transparency and trust with your team individually. And as a group, I absolutely guarantee that accountability improves support improves. And honestly, I think they'll also develop better work habits in this environment.

Thank you for joining this week's bite-size insights. I hope that you learned something new and if you're looking for more in-depth content registered for our 23 minute webinars series at