Part 2: Managing and Motivating a Decentralized Team
In Part 2, the conversation shifted towards effective communication and team management in a decentralized work environment. Even with the tremendous news on Covid-19 vaccine development, CEOs should be prepared to coordinate socially distanced offices with WFH employees for at least another 6-12 months. Are you ready to maintain focus, alignment, and motivation from your virtual C-suite down to individual home offices scattered around the country?
Joining Sheldon were:
- Rafe Wilkinson, a serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience leading organizations that achieved great success in digital marketing, retail convenience, contract security, and healthcare consulting.
- Stephen Bebis has been a CEO for the last 30 years at multi-billion dollar firms including Home Depot and Golf Town.
- Jason Reid is a lifelong entrepreneur who spent most of his career in the construction industry driving major sales during housing markets of all shapes and sizes.
- Mike Marchi, a senior business executive with a history of improving financial and operational performance resulting in increased shareholder value. Mike’s experience includes leadership roles in public, private equity and family-owned privately-held global corporations including General Electric, Citibank, Kohler, American Standard, Grohe, Lixil and SK Capital.
1. Drive positive and productive communication.
Sheldon’s panel stresses that the CEO has to be front and center as you complete your online transition. One of Mike Marchi’s clients sends weekly “State of the Business” videos to all employees. Sheldon has a client who has replaced “walk-bys” with “Zoom-bys” so that he can make quick, positive contact with every level of his organization.
“Another technique that I’ve seen work really well is a uniform agenda format for all Zoom calls,” says Rafe Wilkinson. “Then there’s a summary at the end and the company’s mission and their values are always there. Leaders are being very mindful and purposeful on an ongoing basis, even during these remote meetings. We can’t rely upon employees walking down the corporate HQ hallways and seeing our values plastered on the walls in poster format. CEOs are utilizing this virtual format to make sure there’s consistency in their corporate values, in what we’re aspiring to be and how we go about winning.”
“In my own organization I’ve always been very hands off because I’ve got an amazing executive team,” says Jason Reid. “But since Covid hit I created the narrative of where we’re heading. And I repeat the narrative through regular meetings every week. I have regular VP meetings now with the whole group. Weekly meetings with the sales teams, weekly meetings with the production teams, the office staff. People who have never seen my face except for two or three times a year are now seeing it every single week. Having those open conversations, letting them know that you care, that’s what I think all the best CEOs are doing right now. They are leading, they’re not hiding.”
2. Help employees manage boundaries.
Jason also makes a point of asking his employees how their families are doing, how virtual learning is going, and how they’re maintaining a work-life balance. Sheldon Harris believes these conversations are critical to helping top performers understand that WFH doesn’t mean you’re always working.
“The teams we’re coaching have a bunch of A players,” Sheldon says. “And those A players are committed to doing everything they can. There used to be a natural off switch when they’d leave the office. There was a cadence to their days. For most of us that cadence has been ripped completely out. So not only is it important that CEOs get intentional with their calendar and with the structure, we also need to help our employees find structure.”
One simple conversation starter: What is your workspace like? Employees appreciate a boss who shows interest in how they’re getting through their essential tasks. This might also open up a dialogue that helps employees with families realize they need to move their “offices” off the kitchen table to a calmer designated work zone.
“All of our Covid experiences are different,” notes Jason Reid. “Some of us are fine. Others have three kids at home, in school at various levels, spouses who also work, and they’re now living at work in this three-bedroom house, trying to figure out how to make it work. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to get harder.”
Don’t forget that maintaining your own balance is important too. As you managed your pandemic response, there have probably been days, weeks, maybe even months where you’ve felt “on” at all hours. Part of downshifting from crisis mode back to planning mode is giving yourself space to recharge so that you’re in the best mental and physical place to keep leading.
“We talk to CEOs a lot about being deliberate with their calendar,” says Stephen Bebis. “Being digital, our calendar floats. When do you read now? When do you follow up? When do you study your business and your channel profile? So we have to be deliberate in terms of family time, research time, and down time.”
3. Keep pointing forward.
“This remote model has worked,” says Rafe Wilkinson. “The challenge for CEOs now is how to maximize it moving forward.”
They key to taking that crucial next step is to maintain — or regain — your annual planning rhythm. In this pandemic environment, broadcasting positivity will look like magical thinking to employees if they can’t see the plan that’s going to lead the company forward. Carrying your Q4 momentum forward requires a frank assessment of the obstacles that could trip up your march into next year.
“What else is coming?” asks Jason Reid. “What am I going to miss? The supply chain is really screwed up right now, and it’s affecting every industry differently. So, if you’re not paying attention to your supply chain and what’s going to get wonky and how that’s going to affect your own production, then you need to start paying attention.”
“Don’t stagnate,” adds Mike Marchi. “Adjust and adapt, and also realize that as the CEO everybody does look to you for direction. If you’re scattered or hunkered down, they’re going to get scared. If you’re providing leadership and direction, they’re going to follow.”
To paraphrase Jim Collins, all CEOs look the same when business is good. It’s only during a moment of crisis that real leaders stand out.
For you to stand out, for you to lead your business successfully through one of the most important transitions in its history, you’re going to need a little humility. The essential skills that our entrepreneur coaches discussed in this webinar might stretch your own skillset or force you out of your comfort zone. CEOs need to master emerging technologies, find new ways to connect with their employees, and listen to the trusted pros who hold them accountable.
Prepare to evolve along with your business and you’ll be ready to make BIG happen in 2021.
About Mark Moses
Mark Moses is the Founding Partner of CEO Coaching International and the Amazon Bestselling author of Make Big Happen. Mark has won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and the Blue Chip Enterprise award for overcoming adversity. His last company ranked #1 Fastest-Growing Company in Los Angeles as well as #10 on the Inc. 500 of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. He has completed 12 full distance Ironman Triathlons including the Hawaii Ironman World Championship 5 times.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with the world’s top entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies to dramatically grow their business, develop their people, and elevate their overall performance. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 600 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 40 countries. Every coach at CEO Coaching International is a former CEO or President that has made big happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $1 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight and nine figure exits. CEOs and entrepreneurs working with CEO Coaching International for three years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 59% during their time as a client, more than five times the national average. For more information, please visit: https://www.