When you're remote, plan ahead!

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Do you have a coworker who’s in a different office or location?

When you work virtually with someone on a regular basis, it can be helpful to talk about how you’ll work together. Plan out how you will communicate.

  • You might decide to email for simple matters but get on Skype when something complex requires you to share screens.

  • Discuss what times of day are better to call or text, and whether there are particular days of the week you should avoid.

  • If you collaborate on documents, establish a process to ensure you don’t inadvertently delete updates or create conflicting versions.

    • Consider using Dropbox, Google Docs, or another service that monitors revisions.

Establishing these kinds of ground rules early on demonstrates respect for each other’s time and helps avoid the frustration that can come from mismatched expectations. You got this!

Evaluate Yo'self!

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When a direct report is underperforming, telling them that might just put them on the defensive.

Instead, consider asking the person to evaluate their recent work.

Doing so will open up the conversation and help you understand whether their view aligns with yours. Ask the employee what their key metrics are and whether they’re reaching them.

If you two are in agreement, you can move on to discussing solutions.

If not, explain what you’ve been seeing. Cite specific examples of when the employee has fallen short. But be sure to listen to what the person says — you may discover a project is more involved than you realized, for example. Then work together to craft a plan for improvement.

Ask the employee how they will address the issues you’ve identified. Agree on goals, a timeline for reaching them, and how often you’ll check in on their progress.

What plans have you crafted?

Manage Change by Checking In


If you want to lead a successful organizational change, you have to communicate about the change empathetically.

That means finding out how your team feels and tailoring your emails and meetings to their concerns.

Leaders who don’t take this step risk alienating their employees, who may already be feeling nervous or skeptical.

Tip: Talk to your team members about what’s happening and why.

  • Ask what they’re worried about and what kind of improvements they’d like to see.

  • Listen closely, and then use your communications to address what you heard.

  • Repeat these steps during each phase of the change, so you can gauge how people’s feelings are shifting over time.

The goal is to make sure everyone feels included and heard, so be as transparent about the change as possible. It’s likely that you’ll need to keep some details about the how and why private, but being open will build trust and credibility.

Give them Permission to Speak their Minds

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When people feel safe enough to speak their minds in meetings, everyone benefits: Employees get to be honest, and managers get to hear what their team members really think.

Leaders can invite candid conversation by doing two things.

  1. Focus on permission. Give people permission to say or ask anything they want. Sometimes in meetings it’s unclear who is allowed to say what, or which topics people can and cannot ask about. Discuss these things with your team up front.

  2. Create psychological safety. Everyone has had the experience of not feeling heard or respected; show your team that won’t happen in your meetings. Ask the group to devote their full attention to whoever is talking, to not interrupt each other, and to highlight the value in other people’s contributions.

Tip: Keep your team on track to keep their attention — call on people who haven’t spoken, keep the conversation on track, and hold people back if they’re talking too much.

How do you make sure team meetings are engaging?

Did we need this meeting?


Whether you’re getting your team on board with a new change, relaying critical messages from the top, or forwarding yet another unrelated email, how you communicate is essential to your team’s success.

How do you check your own communication?

To find out if you’re being transparent enough or checking in way too often, just ask your staff!

  1. At your next huddle, ask how you’re doing. Are you overloading them with information or leaving them hanging?

  2. Ask how they prefer information. There might be a certain way your team has the highest level of understanding.

  3. Set the precedent for future communication practices. “If I want to tell you about an upcoming meeting, I will put it on the calendar, and then invite you via email. If you don’t RSVP online by the next day, I will reach out via email.”

Need help refining your communication? Contact us!

All for one, and one for all


When cheering “go, team, go!” during the project process turns into “me, myself, and I” at the awards podium, teams can understandably feel resentful and bitter.

Be their coach and biggest fan!

  • Recognize their work the next time everyone gets together- such as at the start of a meeting or workday.

  • Thank them publicly- have a team lunch, send a mass email, or put their names on the sign next to your award on display.

  • If there is a podium, make sure you mention your team’s part in your success.

Giving glory and credit to your team isn’t about taking away from your individual success; it’s about unity...AKA strong and loyal teams.

You’ve got this – together!

"Fail" is not a 4-letter word

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Whether it’s missing a deadline, falling short on a sales goal, or accidentally hitting “reply all” on an email – oof! – no one is perfect.

Hard work (and being human) comes with peaks and valleys, but your outlook can be the difference between a setback and an #epicfail. When you embrace and learn from failures, you will:

  • Build an open and honest team, because who needs fear and shame?

  • Promote creativity and risk-taking. Play big, win big.

  • Help your team to see failures as opportunities and rally.

So how do we come back from failure? Here’s how:

  1. Own up. “I apologize, I had the deadline for this project set to the wrong date on the calendar.”

  2. Offer suggestions. “We can either work late to make this deadline or ask for an extension.”

  3. Make a change. “How can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?”

When L’s become W’s, there’s no better comeback story.

We want to hear one of yours! Share it with us at ann@wardcertified.com.