Remote listening

One cannot overstate the importance of listening.

And now that most are relegated to their own home offices, conversations happening through a screen, listening is more challenging than ever.

We are all very busy trying to control our appearance, our background, our environment, the kids screaming in the other room, the cat jumping on the desk to broadcast their behind, the email that just came in, the little red circle signaling that somebody just sent us a message – it might be important. And the most we can do is listening while waiting for our turn to speak.

Just being mindful of this very challenge can help you find ways to overcome it.

  • Use the camera only if you can handle it, it is OK to keep it off.
  • If you are on a two-screen setup, turn off the second screen. Maximize the app you use for the call, and shut down all other distractions (email and browser, in particular).
  • Keep your hands off the mouse or trackpad.
  • Take notes on a piece of paper.
  • Use headphones.
  • Apply coaching tactics such as asking open questions and mirroring, to keep yourself engaged and the other listened (you can find some very useful ideas in this past post).

We’ve got this!

Exploring feedback

Feedback is such a popular topic nowadays that managers are pretty much forced to give some.

And so, they resort to “good job!” – or the equivalent “great job!”, “terrific!”, “fantastic work!”.

If you are getting that, take the time to make your manager’s life a bit more challenging. No need to worry, you are just asking them to do their job.

Ask them.

What did you find good in what I did?

What do you think could have been better?

How would you have managed that situation?

How does this relate to our high level goal?

Where do I grow from here?

Managing disengagement

You can’t just let disengagement be. You have to manage it.

It’s easy to manage motivated people, people you like to work with, people who are talented and constantly deliver good work. It’s more challenging to manage those who are disillusioned, who have have little ambition and feel out of place, who end up meeting all requests with silence and a nod.

And you can’t just let them be. Because disengagement spreads and it touches everyone it meets.

It’s likely that disengaged people will end up leaving. It’s your responsibility to manage the transition. To ensure they get the best deal out of it. And to ensure that they don’t leave disengagement behind.

No customer

Beyond the headline below, there is a committee.

There is marketing with an idea. There is sales with a preferred way to tell about the product. There is the executive team with their years of tenure and the history of the organisation. There is product with a use case, and product marketing with the results of market research.

And of course, there is no customer.

Creatures of inputs

You need to deploy a lot of strength to get rid of bad habits.

If you check your phone every five minutes, that’s a feeling of continuos anticipation of what you might learn.

If you read work emails in the evenings, that’s a feeling of commitment and importance and busyness.

If you eat a sweet snack four or five times a day, that’s a feeling of satisfaction and fullness.

Of course, tha aftermath of a bad habit is never as good as the moment that leads to it. But we are creatures of inputs, not creatures of outputs. We care about what comes before – the thoughts, the wondering, the emotions.

That’s why you need strength to get rid of a bad habit. Start with the phone, the emails, the snack, whatever you know will lead you there.

Half measures do not work in this case.