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Tactics for Managers to Keep Their Remote Workers Engaged

Tactics for Managers to Keep Their Remote Workers Engaged

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 12
  • Learn strategies and skills that coaches and managers can use to foster greater engagement among their employees who, perhaps for the first time, are working remotely.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Dr. Adam Hickman, Gallup's Content Manager, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Adam brought his expertise to bear on engaging remote workers, a topic in the news because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Adam shared strategies for managers and coaches -- including individualizing to each employee's needs and understanding how they perform best, based on their CliftonStrengths -- that will help them foster engagement among their employees who work from home.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

We've created the ultimate guide to improving teamwork in the workplace!

Jim Collison 0:01

I am Jim Collison and live from the Gallup Studios here in Omaha -- maybe the last time for a while in the Gallup Studios -- this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on March 13, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:22

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. And today that could never be more important. If you're listening live, we'd love to have you join us in our chat room. There's a link on the live page right above me here to our YouTube instance. The chat room is there; you can ask your questions. If you're listening after the fact, and many of you will, either via our podcast or on YouTube, you can send us an email, really easy: Don't forget, if you're there on YouTube, there's a little Subscribe button down there -- it's actually on Adam's side. And you can subscribe to us, get notified whenever we have new content. And you might want to do that right now because we're producing a lot of new content over the next month or two. If you haven't caught up on our podcasts, you might want to do that. That's kind of the easiest way to consume it on the road, in a train, in a plane, in a car, you can subscribe. Just go in any podcast app, iPhone or Android, search "Gallup Webcasts" and you are there. Dr. Adam Hickman is my guest today. Adam is Gallup's Content Manager here, and one of my Q10s -- that means he's my "best friend at work." His Top 5: Ideation, Command, Analytical, Competition, Individualization, and a Certified Strengths Coach. Adam, welcome to Called to Coach!

Adam Hickman 1:36

Thanks, Jim. I love when you do that. I just want to say that out loud. Let's get started with that. My day's complete now!

Jim Collison 1:43

Well, it's it's a good, I think it's a good reminder, right. And as we think about this topic that we're talking about today, I mean, this is this has been coming on for the last 2 months, and recently here in the United States, we're kind of -- we're beginning to deal with this, this pandemic, and it's sending people home. So why is this -- when we think about what's happening -- all the things that, that pertain to it -- why is this important and why is it important now?

Adam Hickman 2:10

Yeah, good question. And I love the quote from Mark Twain about, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes." No more important time right now to think through that. And Gallup's been reporting data analysis, just about every recent crisis, and this is no different. Time Magazine had a great quote this last week about we're presented with the biggest work-from-home experiment, likely ever. And the thing to remind us all about -- we're going to get more into it -- is that the working-from-home gig or procedure, or however we want to frame it, has been around since the '70s. NASA actually kicked it off. Jack Niles is the first, I would say the, the one, that started the work from home, so it's his fault -- 1973 -- on, you know, is it even possible what, what demands of the job allow for it and things of that sort. And really, Gallup's narrowed its focus over the last 12 years on what do we know about remote working? Because it's a different, it's a different way of leading; it's different way of managing. Right?

Adam Hickman 3:10

In the last of our State of the American Workplace, we said 43% were already working remote. And, by no surprise, any media outlet today, you probably could get the insight that that's about to explode. And when that happens, we've got an opportunity to change the way that we manage, the way that we lead. And that's what I want to spend most of our time talking about: the tactical information. How do you do this? Because you're going to have a lot of new remote workers. And there's going to be that day of, well, it's Monday; I know I've got some meetings. Tuesdays works all right. Wednesday, and now we're getting a little bit different notice and changes, right, and you've got to be prepared for when that happens. How do we, how do we keep them just as engaged as they were 2 weeks ago, right? And that's, that's the charge for today.

Jim Collison 3:52

Adam, what I'm concerned about actually is a lot of organizations have been saying, like, we have contingency plans built; we could handle this if this happens. We've been saying that for a couple years now. But we've never really had the impetus to actually fire off those, those plans, to say, OK, we need to do this. And, and so a lot of organizations around the world now have -- are saying, OK, let's do this. And yet, so we've -- maybe they've covered the technology, VPN, you can get to your files, you can communicate that way. So maybe some of that technology is taken care of.

Jim Collison 4:27

But I think, as we think about managers running their teams remotely, I think it's a new, it's a different world. And it requires a different set of skills. And so, while we've talked about this, starting Monday for a lot of people -- and some people have already done it -- there's a whole new skill set that needs to be kind of thought about in this role. And so that's really the purpose today as we think about it. And again, I said this earlier, when you say "managers," you could also add coaches in, right, you could add a small- business person. Like, this isn't just -- we live in a new environment, at least for the next, I don't know 3 to 8 weeks. And we're going to get a really good opportunity to practice. I think, for a lot of managers, this would be an opportunity to really focus and say, OK, I'm going to implement some of these things right away to begin to work with my teams that way. What, what are some of those things as we roll forward with this?

Adam Hickman 5:17

Yes. So the easy one is -- where people pick on the fastest -- do we have the technology to do so? I don't think -- there's so many technology options out there, you should. Right. It's more about what you'd said. And I would say the word "intentionality" to how you do what you do now. You had intentional strategies while they're in the workplace, and coaches help you see that and put, put some sunlight to that.

Adam Hickman 5:39

Now you've got to switch gears and you've got to think, "I'm not going to visibly see them any longer. How do I do what I did before when they're not in front of me?" And some of the things that boil up, which are the tactical pieces, are things like accountability, trust, feedback, performance conversations, expectations. All of that boils right to the top really quick because you're not going to run into each other in the morning. You're not gonna see each other at lunch. Or you're not right down the hall from one another. And the beauty of this is what science has uncovered and what managers are doing. There's got to be a great mixture between the two. And today we're OK; we, we've done things the way that we have, but there is no better time than right now to get very crystal clear on what is my work-from-home strategy gonna look like as a coach that I'm going to coach managers on? But also as a manager, what do I do now that I don't see my employees? Because the stigma, and I would say, it's not an actual cognitive bias. I've made this up. The Hollywood bias is, things go wrong when they go remote. They must be on their couch; they must be mowing the grass, they -- I mean, all the things. And that's not the case.

Adam Hickman 6:46

But to ensure that doesn't happen, there's things you got to do up front. And things you can do right now, even after listening to this or watching this. There's conversations you can start going. So here's how we're going to do it. The first piece to this is individualization. If you've read It's the Manager, if you've been tied to Gallup work, you know that word comes up. Maybe it's even in your Top 5; it's in my Top 5. But let me, let me put some definitions to this, or as my friend Dr. Phil would say, let's put some verbs in your sentences here.

Adam Hickman 7:14

It's your management style to every employee's innate traits, talents, needs, that enables them to deliver their best performance. Our terminology around moving from boss to coach. The "key to the kingdom" there is that individualization piece. Talent falls out of people's mouth. You've got to be able to know when you hear it and recognize it to say that that's not a complaint or that's not a positive statement. That's a talent statement coming out. And there's clues in the emotions; there's clues in the context of the questions you're getting; there's clues and answers you're hearing. I would bet the Certified Coaches would agree: If you just listen to conversations, how many times have you closed your eyes and thought, oh, man, well that's Input; that's Learner; that's Strategic. Or if somebody says something, you're like, well, no wonder because, you know, you've got Learner or Input behind you here. And of course, you would want to read everything possible.

Adam Hickman 8:11

You've got to even get more engaged with that. Because as individuals are remote, as your employees are remote, that talent still continues to fall out of their mouth; you've just got to know what to do with it. So the best managers, right, and the best coaches help, help to individualize, and they do it in a way that is under the condition of how they perform best. I want to emphasize a couple questions you can ask today, that not only boosts engagement, but it's going to put sunlight to your employees, even coaches give this to managers to say, here's a great question. You're gonna get an emotional response out of this, and it's that clues back to, Now what do I do now that I have this information?

Jim Collison 8:52

And before, before you read these questions, I want to put a caveat in here. For some people, this is going to feel weird. Like you didn't manage this way in person. You didn't need to, because the visual clues were there. Like you were able to see; you were in the office doing this. You're gonna have to be intentional about these questions and ask them often in these settings. This isn't a "one and done." I think you add this to the beginning of meetings, as you're meeting with people. You have to be intentional. Adam, you and I, you know, you used to work, literally an office down. Like there was just a hallway between the two of us, right? We could have those conversations. Today, we -- you and I have to call each other almost daily, in a lot of cases, to stay connected. And it's not always just for work. Sometimes we just need to connect, right?

Jim Collison 9:38

So coaches, managers, people, as you're, as you're thinking about, you have to be intentional. Even if you're a team member, you have to be intentional about making those connections back to your team. And you don't have to be a manager to ask these questions. You can be asking this of your, your best friends, of your coworkers. You can use these questions for that as well. So let's go through those.

Adam Hickman 9:58

Yeah, let me respond -- add one piece to that, Jim. If, if you are coaching managers or you're a manager right now, the, the thing you're just embodying right now, if you think it, feel it -- act upon it. If you feel like you've been quiet for too long, if you feel like you haven't bugged Jim Collison, do it. Because the more you preprogram your intentions behind that, your remote workers are going to pick up on it and it becomes behavior that's just installed in how you do what you do. And the more you have that trigger to do something, right, that's going to take care of a lot of things. Just the -- I could give you a whole bunch of science; I won't, for the sake of time. If you think it, if you feel it -- then act upon it.

Adam Hickman 10:38

OK, so the question, question No. 1: How are you doing? That's an easy question to ask. And if you just ask it in a way that's just curiosity, like, Jim, How are you doing today? Right? Everything -- all that talent is gonna come right out, and you're gonna hear concerns, worries. You're going to hear things that you can pick up on for recognition. You're going to hear priorities, expectations. Just an easy "How are you doing?" is a great question for those to ask, and to hear from that emotional response, to hear those clues.

Adam Hickman 11:08

To get more tactical, let's say you're thinking about -- everyone's about to go remote; an easy question: Are you set up at home to be able to get your work done? It's been really cool. I've watched social media last week on, as you see people transition, the praise they're giving their own companies on their ensuring they're set up to work at home. But you can't always wait for that response to happen in your chat room. You've got to invite that conversation up front, to say, "Are you set up at home?" And set up, right, the beauty to that question is less about, less about the materials and equipment that go along with it. But are you just set up even for childcare? Because the lightning rod here in the United States and Ohio yesterday was the governor saying that schools are closed for the next 3 weeks to do distant learning. Well, there's a lot of parents, there's a lot of workers, they're gonna have to change their style and how they get work done, just as difference.

Adam Hickman 12:05

So that setup question -- there's a lot to be dug into. And the beauty to that is, that's an emotional response you're going to hear again -- needs, you're gonna hear doubts, you're gonna hear things that you can help remove barriers as a manager, or coach them through as, How do I still get work done, even though I'm not in the office?

Adam Hickman 12:25

OK, this one's particular to strengths coaches and managers that use strengths in the domains. Your "keys to the kingdom" of your team are those strengths domains. See how your team works? Because if you're an Executing, you got to think through, now that they're in a remote setting: What do I need to do to keep us executing in the work that we do. If we're in Influencing, how are they going to influence? Do they have the right technology? Do they have the right partnerships? Do I need to broker conversations between individuals to help them with continuing? Relationship Building -- that's a tough one. So if they're high Relationship -- if they've got that drive -- you've got to keep that Relationship Building going. But the difference is the intentionality. It's easy when they're in an office and you can push, you know, you have people in meetings, and you'll go to lunch; I can walk down the hall and bug Jim when I know he's really busy, just to mess with him. All of those things could happen in person, but now remote, I had to put a whole different spin on how I annoy Jim. And I feel like it's working.

Adam Hickman 13:27

But I've got to figure a way to keep calling. I've got to figure out a way, when I call Jim, I don't want to just hear his voice; I want to see his face. So do I click the camera button or do I click the audio button? You click the camera. In meetings -- we were talking about this earlier today, Jim and I -- about those in Relationship Building. As soon as they come on a group meeting, they want to see faces. So if you're shy about turning your camera on, get comfortable turning your camera on. If you've, if you're about to start a meeting and you haven't checked in with everyone, that "How are you doing today?" is a great starter conversation to get going.

Adam Hickman 13:59

Strategic Thinkers were -- we're in it, and we're like, "Yes! We get some quiet time to think, and work, and write and all things related." But then it's, "How do I, how do I come up out of that Strategic Thinking Domain, and still, still stay connected?

Adam Hickman 14:15

The study I did for my doctor was on isolation and loneliness. And one of the biggest risks is that later-in-the-day afternoon time period, I think I reported it was around 2 to 4 p.m. Eastern, right. So find 2 to 4 p.m. Eastern in whatever time zone you're in. It's that later part of the day where, where remote workers have that sense of isolation. Well, why is that? That comes because people are leaving, lights are turning out on whatever mechanism you use for -- to stay connected. And just that doubt of, like, you know, it's 3:00; I've got something I need to start. Do I start it now or do I do it in the morning? Right, and you, you want your most engaged, your most talented employees thinking, like, let's get this thing started and get going with this. Right.

Adam Hickman 15:00

And so as a manager or as a coach, how do you keep those Strategic Thinkers and all the domains and active? Just know that 2 to 4 time period; that later afternoon time period is when they're at the greatest risk for that sense of isolation. So think of, can you move your team meetings from Monday morning, or whatever morning, to the afternoon? Right, just flip the script on that. Move that to a later part of your day, because that way, you're at least your remote employees know, I'm going to connect with someone today and I've got some things I want to share -- excitement, right? There's a different prescriptive. Rather than, It's Monday morning, we're gonna have our 8 a.m. kickoff to the work we've got today. Switch it, push that back towards the towards the later part of your day.

Adam Hickman 15:07

OK, let's move on to some clues for strengths. I want to give you some more questions to ask; some more things to think about. These are some great conversation pieces or phrases that I've picked, picked up over the years being at Gallup, and they're just easy phrases to jot down. I want to talk through strengths, engagement and performance. So if you're thinking of, How do I check in? Or what are those -- what are those phrases that my employees or I could coach people to listen for? Here they come.

Adam Hickman 16:13

The first one's around strengths. So if your employees are saying "I need ... ," right, that out of that strengths domain. "I enjoy ... ," that's out of that domain. "I'm energized by"; "I have to"; "I wish I could": All of that is an invitation to open up their -- that strengths conversation, and get really crystal clear on where that's coming from.

Jim Collison 16:34

Adam, it may be a good idea, as we think about these early conversations of asking that, "What's energizing you right now?" in the conversation. Like, the -- your environment has changed. What's energizing you? Like, you may find individuals are completely energized by different things, now that, now that they're home, or they're working remotely, however that looks, right? Different location, whatever that may be. That environment may energize them. You might want to spend that time thinking about OK, new world, and how are you throwing your themes at these to make sure you're the most productive?

Adam Hickman 17:07

Yeah, and even in a check-in, let's say, they're into it for a week. You -- I mean, don't, don't wait to hear it; ask, right? Like, "Hey, you've been remote -- you've been remote for a little bit; what keeps you energized? Talent's gonna come right out! Right, recognize that; know what that is; know what to do with that.

Jim Collison 17:24

Yeah. And I think -- there's a little -- a conversation going in the chat room now about, like, meeting times. Asking, knowing like, Hey, when's the best time to meet with you? As a manager, you're going to probably spend way more time communicating now than you did before. It's not going to be held between the hours of 8 and 5 in your local time zone. Right. You may need to be up for some of your folks who are up early; you may need to stay up late for some of your folks that are doing it. But asking that question of, "What am I energized by?" or "I wish I could ... " gives those clues, right, to how are they feeling now? You know, how's it working now? Yeah.

Adam Hickman 17:58

Yeah. Yeah, so important to know, too, because once you have that on-ramp to performance and that peak performance, you don't want to take a right-hand turn. No potholes, no speed bumps -- let them go, and find out where that off-ramp time period is for them to -- for you to stay engaged. OK, let's move on to engagement. "Who has this information?" "How do I get approval?" "Nobody seems to be listening" or "I can't connect." "They don't seem to care." "We're sacrificing quality," right? Those are all what I would say predicaments. Right. But those are all clues. It's not just a phrase or a complaint. It's, OK, I've now caught on that engagement's a little bit in jeopardy. How do I, you know, where do I engage with that process? Think of, you know, who has this information? Materials and equipment if you're Q12-wise. How do I get approval? Are they in the right relationships? Have you connected people? That, the -- nobody seems to care, but, we all do care, right? There might be a few out there that don't. But that's more of, Are they in the right role? Like, are we starting to uncover things that are just going to boil to this, to where it's, they're at that engagement risk.

Adam Hickman 19:05

And one of my favorite categories is the performance because I'm all about the Executing and Thinking themes. "This timeline's too short." Right, that's a performance clue to OK, let's talk through why is it too short? What are the, what are barriers you could remove as a manager, as a coach? How can you leverage the -- how do you aim at, at that piece that can help not jeopardize the timeline? The phrase, "I'm worried," right. Why are you worried? What, what's underneath that? "I don't know how this will get done; this, this isn't possible." "I can't make this happen alone." These are sentences and phrases you likely could and will hear as more folks go remote because you're in that atmosphere where I'm sure you can all relate to you heard a sentence or felt something and made it bigger than what it is. Right, and likely, some of us have Googled something and all of a sudden, the world, it's, it's blown up into something that's huge that's not really.

Adam Hickman 19:59

Well, you're on the front end of that when you're hearing these clues, because you're starting to hear that before they Google it, right, before they turn, turn it loose, to get involved with it up front. And all of these stem from strengths, engagement and performance. These are just you've got to, you've got to sector it to, What are we at risk with this sentence, right? And then figure out, What am I working with, strengths-wise? And how do we get this back on track? The nice piece to this is that it's possible, right? It just takes a conversation,

Jim Collison 20:27

Adam, we are also moving into a realm where if you think you're going to live on email and instant message in this kind of scenario, it's just not going to work, right? We know how often a situation like this -- myself last night, where somebody sent me an email; I took it the wrong way. I sent maybe a snarky reply. Then that snarky reply turns into kind of a back and forth, where, in a lot of cases, we're just going to need -- we're just need to get, get on video. Like, let's just talk about this thing. It always changes -- that changes the equation.

Jim Collison 20:55

Managers are going to need to set expectations very clearly and early. Like, this is not one you want to get behind on, right? You don't want to be setting expectations 2 weeks from now; you want to be setting them today, as an example, because we are, we are going remote starting Monday, everybody. My manager, Matt Mosser, put together a Zoom meeting yesterday. We were all in the office, but we did a Zoom meeting, just, and then he set ex ... so we all got on, and he set the expectations. Like OK, this is how we're going to do this going forward, and I need you to have a camera on, and we need to have good audio; you need to be able to connect. That was setting those expectations early and clearly. How else, when, when we think, that's, that's one example of doing it. But why is that important? What have we said about that?

Adam Hickman 21:41 |

It comes back to the intentionality piece. What Matt did was great practice but also it's conditioning him for what's coming up. So if you've got a meeting today in person, take Matt's advice he would give. Have it remote. See if you're set up, how comfortable you feel. What's the camera angle look like? What's the lighting, the sound? I think Jim and I were yesterday messing around with the light in this specific room. I can't help this, Jim, but the other lighting works.

Jim Collison 22:11

No judgment; no judgment.

Adam Hickman 22:11

So -- I get you. It's all under that remote etiquette, which we didn't, we're not going to get into today. But how are you set up in a way to make that happen? Don't wait to try it. If you've got a meeting in the next hour, question yourself, can we make this remote? Can we try this out? When we try Teams, whatever the mechanism that you use, you know, what, what could you use to make that possible? Because what, what it turns into is, you're setting expectations early and clearly with your team that we're in a new environment; we're in a new work structure, and we've got to adapt to what this change is.

Adam Hickman 22:47

How we're doing today is a tough beginning because about half of all U.S. employees, they don't know what's expected of them at work. Keep that in the back of your mind as we're starting to have more go remote, Gallup's reporting that half already don't know what's -- don't know what's expected of them at work. We've got to clean that up really clear and fast for folks. And here's a great way; here's a crystal clear statement do this. This is, this is Command coming right out, Jim. The work you should do is, right, success, the bullseye, the quality, the standard is this, and the deadlines gotta be right now on this time period, right? You've given what the task is. You've set, I mean, if you read Don Clifton's just Soar With Your Strengths on forward, right, you're aiming at success. So let them see visually, talk about it, explain it. That's that quality standard. There's, there's no, no reason you can't spend time talking about what that is. Because here's what that does. It avoids your next email, your text message, your phone calls, your FaceTimes. I mean, you run down the list, right. Paint success, and let their talents get them there. Right, put a deadline to it when of that case is going to be, and then you, as the coach or manager, you don't need to be the helicopter remote worker (I just made that up, Jim).

Jim Collison 24:03

That's a good one. Maybe that'll catch on.

Adam Hickman 24:06

Trademark that one. You don't need to be the helicopter remote manager on all things considered the standards because the how, right, that's that -- they're gonna do it the way that they get it done through their talents, through their strengths, right. Just you're gonna put that down line out front.

Adam Hickman 24:25

Let's keep going with expectations. There's one other point I want to make sure we get crystal clear on is that expectations requires that equipment and information, but it's the digital options that are going to help aid what that is. There's some really cool software out there today, right, in your company that you work with or you partner with or whoever you're coaching. I've seen this all over the place. I watch LinkedIn like a hawk, and I love seeing all of the options from calendar invites to how you're connecting through other softwares like VirBELA or Zoom or things like that. That you're getting -- people are getting really creative on how they stay connected. What I love about that part is that's intentional. You're still Relationship Building. And oh, by the way, you're going to boost their performance because you've put such a mechanism in place to stay connected. No better time than right now to start thinking through what's in house do we have to start working to become that digital remote worker? Or how do we, how do we stay connected in team meetings?

Adam Hickman 25:26

If I need to have a check-in with my employee, does the check-in need to be I show up on screen? No, you've got other options. We're smart enough to know how we can stay connected. And from our millennial researchers, throw this one out there. We said 1.5 times a week for millennials for check-ins. Now that's, that doesn't mean you've got to schedule a check-in 1 1/2 days a week. And a check-in or a touchpoint is, could be text message; could be an email; could be anything, just so they know, Hey, I'm thinking about you. Remember that "Think on it. Act on it," deal, right? If you're feeling it, if you're thinking of it, then do so. And just know, your millennials, from our research, that 1.5 time period. Now the beauty to that is, it's not just millennials, right? Give that the best practice for all of the generations in your workplace because that, that, that beauty phenomena of isolation -- it's not particular to a person, it's not particular to a domain. Anybody can be exposed to it when you're in that remote setting.

Jim Collison 26:27

And we're gonna, we're doing a whole series over the next 2 weeks on the 5 Coaching Conversations. And we're going to tweak those, starting today. So if you haven't signed up for that, if you want to join us live here in a couple hours. They'll be available as a recorded version, so if you want to go back. But Paul Walters and I are going to talk about those, but also bring in the element of, What does this mean in, in a fully remote world? Because it's different, you know, that "quick connect" is a little bit harder when you're just not running into someone; you have to kind of be intentional about it.

Jim Collison 26:56

When we, when we think about the technology available, it's not easier; it's actually gotten harder, because I, now I have more ways to connect. There are people I connect with on Facebook Messenger. There's people I connect with via text. There's people I connect with via email still. There's people I call. There are some that I FaceTime. And you can kind of get frustrated with that and say, Oh, there's all these different methods! Or you can celebrate that and say, I have all these different ways to communicate with people, right? This is great, right where they're at.

Jim Collison 27:25

And I spend a lot of time adapting and adjusting. You know, some of my, some of my very best friends don't live in Omaha, and I communicate with them at least once a week, sometimes a lot more. I know them better, we're connected because we do these things. I think, in the workplace, we also have to. And of course, there's gonna be work rules, right? There's gonna be -- this is where it's a little bit different at work. You're gonna -- work, it may, they may specify how you're gonna, how you're going to connect. We're a Teams environment here. And so we're going to spend some times connecting on Teams. But that doesn't mean for quick connects, I can't send a text or I can't send an instant message, right? I can't do those -- I can do those kinds of things. So your mileage may vary, based on your organizational rules. But when we think about the, the, the mantra, the, what we should be saying is "Connect early and connect often!" Right? Do this as much as you can. It takes intentionality to get it done. And the technology around it, we had a question on Facebook about it last night of giving some advice on it. There is, in our Facebook groups, there is plenty of advice on the different kinds of technology use, we won't we won't go in depth on it here. But it's never been a better time, from a, from a technology perspective, to stay connected to people. There's all kinds of ways to do it, including message boards, right? When we, and people are like, message boards?! Jim, that was like 25 years ago. Well, no, actually, there are some, there are some really good ones out there. And if we treat Facebook that way, or LinkedIn that way, maybe LinkedIn needs to pick up a little bit on those. Staying connected to people that way is, is going to be super important.

Adam Hickman 28:57

Yeah. You got it. Hey, Jim, I want to address something I see going on in the chat room. Justin, 1.5 times per week, per week. Times per weeks, not days. You could try days. That's a lot of conversation.

Jim Collison 29:09

A lot of talking.

Adam Hickman 29:11

I wish I could equate it to hours, but my Analytical is hitting "Pause" today. I'm -- it's been a long week. 1.5 times per week. Right. And then my other, other friend, Steve, Hi, Steve! The best thing you can do around that, and I love that, you know, Paul Walters is a great resource for this. But that 5 Conversations, I'm sure as you guys get into that conversation, sometime, somewhere the word "meaningful" is going to come up. And I think it's absolutely right to say -- Remember we said, What science knows; what management does, there's a little difference there. You've got to individualize to your employees on what they need. Science says 1.5 times. OK, have that conversation with your teams; find out where they're at, where they're comfortable. "Meaningful" is the, the catchy term there on -- you could define meaningful; I could define meaningful; Jim can. You've got to ask them, What's a meaningful conversation? To them, even more important now that they're remote. Cool. Well, that fits into ... go ahead.

Jim Collison 30:10

Intentionally, right, intentionally. That's the -- I think that's the part we got to get in there is you can't just let it happen. It won't. The, the odds of it happening go way down. So write it down; put it in your, put in a reminder; have Siri remind you; whatever. Get that done to make sure those kinds -- have you checked in with so-and-so? Have you sent a note to ... ? Have you done a text? That goes back to those early conversations, of asking them -- the individualization, go back to the beginning, How do you prefer, like, what's the best method for me to do this with you? You have to ask that question. It's, you can't assume it anymore. You have to ask it.

Adam Hickman 30:48

Yeah, absolutely. And I love the meaningful one piece because that's another clue to talent. We didn't put that in there. Even if you just start the conversation, Hey, what's meaningful feedback to you? What's meaningful conversations to you? What's, like, am I hitting the mark for this? That doesn't mean you have to act on everything they say. But you're going to hear what's most important to them, which is your clues, your, your strategy map, your blueprint for How do I individualize to this person? Well, listen to what they say first. And you'll get to where that's at.

Adam Hickman 31:18

So our last piece, where we talk about looking ahead -- because there's some things we've got to even think through, after, after this crisis to think through what comes next; I want to make sure we put some highlights to that -- is the communication piece. There's no, no better time than now to amp up on all things communication, and my goodness, you can go in the world of academics or anything in communication, you'll find a whole slew of options. All I'm asking for is you communicate; find the one that fits you that's individualized to your team. Doing a strengths lens, and you're only going to benefit from that conversation, because we all know, we all know the emotional high that comes with a strengths-based conversation. That emotion is going to turn over to engagement. And when you got engagement, we know performance comes along with it. So start that way with it, with that strengths-based conversation.

Adam Hickman 32:06

Because the employees that are accustomed to that work, that working in house, they're likely going to feel cut off, for the no other fact that they're now in a remote setting. Right, information, relationships they need to do their job. They've got a different way they've got to go about doing it, and some with natural talent are going to do it right away. They're going to figure it out. It's going to be a beautiful thing to just sit back and watch and see how, how the talents come to mind as it relates to relationships.

Adam Hickman 32:31

Those that needs some help, OK, right, just let's amp up the communication right now on how we do this. I'm trying not to get a competition going too hard here, Jim. But it's like, let's figure out the plan right now. You got it; we'll make it work. Here's a helpful tip to remind yourself as you're doing this: It's OK to pad time in for socialization. And a lot of, a lot of Executing themes are like, Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. We've got to get work done right now. We don't have any time for that. I'm telling you. I'm all there with you. I put intentional reminders in my calendar. I've got a few things here on my desk to remind, it's OK to socialize. Because if you're building that engagement, if you've got that best friend at work -- have best friends at work, now that you've got remote setting. All right, figure out, How do you socialize? And if you if you've got that analytical mindset, or you need reminders, plug it into your calendar. Right? That's OK to do because you did it in office, whether you know it or not. Right? You walked to lunch and you had interactions. You walked in, you had interactions. You went up to get a drink. You have some sort of padded socialization time already, and you didn't even know it. Right? Maybe you did, but but maybe those "happy accidents" or those those "conversation collisions" in the hallway just took place. You got to figure out a way; now you've got to install that into your calendar, now you've got to install it into your day to make that happen.

Adam Hickman 33:54

If you think of, think of your employees, or maybe it's you. It was me; it's still me, every now and then for Scott Miller, my coach Scott Miller, that says, "Got a minute?" All right, who are your "Got a minute" folks? Your "Got a minute" folks now become critical to who you stay engaged with because that's a clue for, Did I hit Q1 -- Did I get all the expectations clear with them? How much do I need to check in with them? What -- how are they feeling? What's their comfortability with now being remote? All right, so if you close your mind, or close, close your eyes and rewind in your mind, Who are those that you have that "Got a minute?" conversation the most with? Let's, let's use them as the folks we start with.

Adam Hickman 34:36

I know I've heard -- I can almost close my eyes and see Maika saying this -- are, are 4 Needs of Followers. Let me bring those back up: Trust, Stability, Hope and Compassion. How are those related to remote workers? Oh, boy. Where, where do we begin on this one? So much around trust and stability and hope and compassion. You know, it's my hardest one with Empathy -- I mean everything relationships, just 30 -- 46 and beyond, right? It's not even 34. It's so far off the grid! That you've got to again, start to think through, How can I convey this? Not only in the words that you say but things that you write. Right? Look at your last email to your group, to your team, to your peers. Are you seeing signs of those 4 needs? Because there's, there's no difference whether it's in office or not. People need people; let's start there. And the way in which you can help coach, the way in which you can help manage, those 4 terms come to fruition right away. Right, How are you -- how are you still continuing that trusting relationship? How are you building stability in a time of crisis where you know at the time that they leave work, right, we're gonna we're gonna walk out of this office, I'm going to turn on the news. I'm gonna read my phone. There's -- that worry of stability is out there. Let their workplace be the most stable place. Right? Let the relationship between you and their, their manager, their coach, the most stable. Hope comes along with that, and you get that done through compassion.

Jim Collison 36:06

Adam, we've got a whole series -- Theme Thursday Season 3, all on Strengths Based Leadership all on those 4: trust, stability, hope, compassion. This may be a great review. Coaches and managers, this may be a great review for you to go back and grab your Top 5, work through those conversations. Some good learning over the weekend or think about during the week or just good, good reminders. Those materials are available for you and, and I think maybe a good review.

Adam Hickman 36:37

Yeah, absolutely. Friday, make it "Review Friday."

Jim Collison 36:40

Won't be ,won't be Friday for everybody as their listening, right. It is a great opportunity to get that done. Going into this, Adam, we know that the biggest risk is loneliness and isolation, right?

Adam Hickman 36:52


Jim Collison 36:53

How do we, how do we combat that?

Adam Hickman 36:59

Let's -- I guess let's start with the terms; get clear on that. So loneliness and isolation -- there is a difference between that. UCLA coined the first study on loneliness. It's phenomenal -- in this -- it was 1978, if I remember, right. So think of '76 that first remote worker; '78, we thought, ah, there's something going on here we got to keep an eye on. Right. So as adaptations and versions come out behind that there's all sorts that are out there. But that, that -- there's a there's a window before; there's a window during; and a window after that you're going to experience. It's almost loneliness and isolation is the outcome of what happens during that time period.

Adam Hickman 37:36

From what I've studied, you're at risk of a 21% dip in, in performance the minute that's triggered. And -- make it real for you. So, so you're so you're working from home if you've done this before, right, and you start seeing lights go out, no email traffic's going on. No meetings. It's pretty nice outside. Do -- I gotta go get the mail. I gotta get the mail. Gosh, some stuff needs done outside, you pick up -- all of this starts to happen, right? You create this environment where loneliness and isolation, not always a negative consequence or a negative thing to it. It just happens, right? You're on your own, or you're in a remote environment. How do you, how do you stay engaged with that is you've got to be aware of the daily activities that are about to happen to your remote workers so you can keep them engaged. Where they don't, they don't have a sense of there's other stuff. I love to go outside around, get some stuff done. But I'm so crystal clear on on what's expected of me today when I woke up, that that's, that's not even an option. It's as if I'm in Omaha, right beside Jim, thinking, I'm gonna go annoy Jim right now. How's that gonna be possible?

Adam Hickman 38:44

So you've got to, you've got to think through your activities throughout the day and be clear on expectations. Let's just start there with that. Right? So if those who desire and need those human connections, those are the ones I put at the top right now. Right, think of that Relationship Domain. Because they're the ones that are going to experience and feel that difference of loneliness and isolation, likely before others will, because that's their natural wiring, right? That's their innate talent.

Adam Hickman 39:09

I can't say enough about the easiest tactic to avoid this. And as much as we've said it, that doesn't always happen. If you think it and you feel it, then act on it. Right? If you feel like you're -- I've looked at some of remote worker policies and even assessments about before you, before you go to remote. They're really getting to the core of, Are you preprogrammed to know when to reconnect is possible? And for quite a while it was, it was an option that if I felt disconnected, I can just go back into the office place. But that's not, that's not the case right now. You've got to switch -- flip the script on that one as well on, you know what, I haven't talked -- Scott Miller's his name at Gallup, it's who I work for. I haven't talked to Miller -- I just call him Miller. He has a first name, Scott, but it's "Miller" to me. I haven't talked to Miller today. What's he doing? It's 10 my time right. It's 10:44; at about 10:56, I'm gonna watch his light, see it go green. I'm just gonna call and say, "Got two minutes?" That's a check-in first, right? That's a quick conversation, that's, I'm -- we're now face to face. I can I could feel the heat from Texas coming here into Ohio and feel a little bit better about my day. And that's the way that we just stay connected. Those are the intentionality pieces you've got to start thinking through.

Jim Collison 40:23

Adam, I love the intentionality of what you just said. So let me dissect it for a second. So, one, you, you knew you needed it, you're thinking about him, right? So one is, Hey, what's going on? And then two, you looked at the status, right? We have, we have the ability to see how people's status -- now I never believe the status, and if it's green, red or yellow, I just contact him anyways. But some people respect, some people respect those things. I'm not really good at it, but, but others are. And so you wait for that to turn green, right? And then two -- or three -- then you kind of know his schedule. Like here at Gallup, it's really really common -- we're super social in meetings -- if it's scheduled for an hour, it's probably going to last an hour. You know that at the top of the hour is probably the most strategic time to try to connect -- and just a little bit before, because you know he's probably going into a meeting, maybe the next one, and you want, you need one or two minutes of it.

Jim Collison 41:12

So good for you, I think, when, as we think about those, those ways, you just kind of did a clinic on, like, Hey, here's how it's done. I'm thinking about somebody, so I'm gonna act on it. I'm gonna check their status to see if they're available or check their schedule. I'm gonna then just ping them and say, "Hey." I do this, instead of believing the status, I always just send a note, "Hey, ping me when you're, when you're free, because I need to chat with you." Right? And it just gives everybody an opportunity to kind of just kind of weigh in on that.

Jim Collison 41:42

OK, in the few minutes we have left, let's, let's look ahead a little bit, because this is, this is where it gets really, really interesting. Hopefully, everything we've talked about before you can implement, or coach your managers to implement or, and like I said earlier, this isn't just for coaches and managers, it's individual contributors on a team. There's things you're responsible for as well that you need to do. It's not just about you receiving; you have to give as well in this situation. As we look ahead, what kind of advice would you have for us?

Adam Hickman 42:10

Sure. Let's start again, remember we're, we're last reported 43% of U.S. population's working remote. I've seen other channels like Forbes talked about at least 50% of the population's working remote, right. So we're in the variance of where that is. What no one can dispute: That's about to explode again. We know that that's, it's, it's no longer a privilege or a tenure thing or how it works, right? It's gonna happen. As you get -- as remote working becomes more common, as remote workers get more comfortable, here's what I would say. We'll be writing on, I'm going to bug people about writing about this. If now you think of, Do I need to send an email or do I just call the person? There's another trick to do that. Always challenge yourself to, Can I just call them and find out? Do I really need to send them an email for them to respond to and I got to read? No. Let's just call each other. Let's make that happen.

Adam Hickman 43:05

As they get more comfortable, you're like, you know, I'm pretty effective working remote. I guess I didn't need to be in person for that. Those conversations are going to start to boil eventually. And we've got to be prepared -- managers, coaches you've got to be prepared for, as employees stay effective, become maybe even more effective in a remote environment. When the bounceback comes back or they're, you know, we're coming back into the workplace, how are -- how are your strategies? How are your policies? How are your managers comfortable? All of that tails into, Are we ready to take this back on again? Or maybe, Is this a different type of work style that we can be more conducive?

Adam Hickman 43:43

Because if you read our work on flexibility, and even in our women's report about all things around when you allow flexibility, what do you gain from that? A lot, right? Your most talented employees expect it. They're looking for it in job postings. They're looking for it in the descriptions of those. They're Googling. I can't tell you how many times I see on LinkedIn professionals that are talking about remote working sites, if you want to go look for a job that's remote. It's all over the place. And now that you're, we're, I don't want to say "required," but we're making this even more possible by what's going on, we've got to be prepared for when it's -- when the, when the smoke clears, how are we set up to have folks come back in the office as effective as they were, but now they've got this new way of working that we can get effective done work done as well. I think that's what's -- if we're looking ahead, and if, if in my analytical mind, it's like now I'm starting looking for, let's get prepared right now, right coach them while we got them in that position. And then, as they're getting ready to come back, how do we make that transition? How do we support those that are, that are thinking, I didn't need to be in that, in that building for that reason. I was just as effective now.

Jim Collison 44:54

Yeah, I think we have some really, some really new opportunities to be and take our productivity to new levels, based on these new rules. I think we have to experiment with it and make some mistakes, and always, always assume positive intent. This is the hardest part about this kind of communication that we're going to do. And listen, you know, Physician, heal thyself! I have to do this all the time myself and say, No, it was, that was positive intent. I'm actually, they didn't intend this -- I know it sounds that way, but they didn't intend it that way. And you know, for years of working in groups, online groups where I don't get to talk to people very often. That's a skill I'm still learning. And I think it just takes time and patience and practice and work to get it done. But it can be done. And we're gonna have to be extra careful. There's a lot of stress; people are under a lot of pressure and stress. And we need to be careful going into these situations.

Jim Collison 45:49

Let's remember, there's other parts of the world. So we're talking about the U.S. right now. But there's other parts of the world that have been through this already.

Adam Hickman 45:55


Jim Collison 45:56

And, and we have some things to learn from them, too. So check out -- there's, there's people writing about it and spending time on it. We're going to, we're going to spend a bunch of time writing about it. You've given me no more than 8 or 9 remote worker links that I'm going to be posting throughout the weekend into our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. So folks can just review what they have, what's available to them, and really get refreshed on this. But most of all, be in a position, either as a manager to start getting it right, or as a coach to help managers in these situations to have these tools available for them. To say, Hey, you need to think through, through these these items, right? You -- we put a post; there'll be a link to it in the show notes for the recorded version. I've put it in the chat room several times. This is kind of based on a post that we put out yesterday on And you can, you're welcome to share that around as well. Put that in your social networks; we make that available, so that you too can help those that are around you. Adam, anything else that you'd wrap up with?

Adam Hickman 46:59

No, keep the intentionality; know that it's a different work environment. A sentence I run around with every now and then is, "If you treat remote workers the same as an office workers or the same, you already failed." Right? Use some of the strategies and tips we talked about today. And that'll start the snowball of how you keep them engaged, how you keep peak performance coming.

Jim Collison 47:19

Yeah, just as just as a reminder too, as a wrap. Justin makes a good point. I think we need to remember that we are still -- we still have huge sectors where remote just doesn't work, right? Product handling, food service, you know, some of those spaces. And yes, we also need to be aware of that environment and what's happening there and the pressures there. You know, there's been, you know, we think about Microsoft that closed its campus in Redmond during this. Well, they have hundreds of hourly employees who are there to support the the full-time staff, so sending them home, had a huge, had huge ramifications on, on the work. In their case, Microsoft, I think, is still paying them for the work that they're doing, even though they're at home.

Jim Collison 48:02

And so we've got tons of situations. I think the key in this is to be aware of what's going on around you. And, and apply -- by the way, what we talked about today can be done in the office as well, or it can be done, right. Like these, these are things that work. And so, Adam, thanks for taking the time. Thanks for your work on this. I think if you're out at, and you're looking at a lot of our workplace writing that's being done, Adam's in the center of a lot of that and, as well as Miller, and appreciate you guys. Appreciate you guys and what you do. If you're listening live, we will do a little bit of postshow for some questions. There were some good questions in chat room I want to get back to.

Jim Collison 48:43

But we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available. I mentioned You can also go out to Those are all our strengths resources. If you or your organization has not taken the strengths journey, we'd love to have you consider that. There's some options to get that done. If you have some questions, you can send us an email: Even though we're all become becoming remote workers this weekend, we're still in business. And so we have -- in fact, I think, to your point, I think we'll be even more productive in a lot of ways. And so send us an email: If you haven't signed up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter and you want to get that, and maybe some learning. By the way, if you are getting home or your production environment is changing, we have tons of learning available for you through these webcasts. If this is the first time you've watched something like this, I literally have hundreds of hours for you available -- I mentioned this early -- on our YouTube pages, just go to And you can see them there. You also can listen to us as a podcast, just search "Gallup Webcasts"; we have Called to Coach, Theme Thursday. They're, they're all there. It's kind of hard not to find our stuff. I'm always surprised when people can't, because it's in so many different places. We also are changing a lot of our training and we'll be available -- not, not today, but quickly here, into virtual -- into a virtual mode. And so those will be available. We'll post those on our to our courses site: If you have any questions, again, like, if you're thinking like, Hey, I want to do this, but is it going to be available virtually? Just send us an email, right, send us an email: Join us on our Facebook group for the continued conversation: And on LinkedIn, all you have to do is search for "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." You don't need to be a trained coach to be in the group, but we do -- to keep the spammers out of there -- we do, we do ask the invite only. So ask to join there: CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches; ask to join there, and I will let you in. Just to remind you, we've got those 5 Conversations going on a little bit later this afternoon: And if you follow us there, you'll get notifications every time I post something new. Adam, we have more learning coming up right now. I didn't plan this. I didn't know this was coming up, but we frontloaded the spring with a ton of learning. Great opportunity as you are -- maybe have some time to watch at home, to join us live. We'd love to have you do it. About 75 or 100 of us joined today, which is super cool. We'd love to do that more often with you and look forward to that as well. Stay around for some postshow. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Adam Hickman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Command, Analytical, Competition and Individualization.

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