Successfully Managing Flexible Work Arrangements – Ryan Ayers

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More employers than ever are ditching the notion of the 9-5 and attracting top talent by allowing more flexible work arrangements. And why shouldn’t they? With the widespread availability of Wi-Fi, many jobs can be done just as well in a beachside café or a dentist’s waiting room as in a cubicle. In fact, Gallup research indicates that flexible work options like telecommuting can increase engagement levels. Those who worked from home 3 or 4 days per week were more engaged than those who spent all their time in the office. Despite the benefits to employees, however, managing a team that is not guaranteed to all be in the same space at once can be a challenge to managers. If you’re wondering how to handle your company’s new work from home policy, here are some tips for managing a flexible team successfully.

First, Create Some Ground Rules

Flexible work schedules should, of course, be flexible, but they shouldn’t turn into a free-for-all. Before the policy is put into place, set some ground rules, especially regarding time management. How will team members communicate with you and each other? Will they have normal hours for them, and check in when they need to deviate? Or will it be more relaxed, with employees coming in when they want, but logging hours? How will communication and availability work when people are working from home? It all depends on your company’s vision for flexible work schedules, but it pays to establish some groundwork up front to avoid misunderstandings. If there’s no specific plan for how the company will execute flexible working hours, talk to your team. What do they need? What works best for them? From there, you can examine how it will work with the team’s needs.

Never Play Favorites

Whether it’s in the workplace, classroom or athletic field, one essential component of great leadership remains the same: everyone, no matter their role, gets treated with respect. This respect can be exemplified in a number of ways, but it’s essential that your team has a clear understanding of your respect for each and every one of them. If you’re going to let one person use the policy for accommodating something important in their life, you need to let others do it as well. Whether that means taking a child to an appointment or observing religious customs, you can’t be the one to decide what is important and what isn’t. Your team is made up of individuals, and they all have different priorities and obligations. You need to let them decide what those priorities are, not dictate what they should be.

Use In-Office Time Wisely

When you do have your team members in the office, make good use of that time. Schedule necessary meetings, set aside brainstorming time, and check in with people. Some tasks are absolutely easier in person, so make sure everyone has ample time for these meetings when they are in the office.

Don’t Let People Take Advantage

Most people have good intentions, and typically, it’s unusual for employees to abuse flexible work arrangements. They understand that they have a job to do, and that it still needs to be done, despite some wiggle room on where and when. It’s important to establish expectations about what constitutes abuse of the policy, and enforce it when necessary. That doesn’t mean micromanaging or being overly authoritarian—it just means being fair. Other employees will resent people obviously slacking—and brushing these incidents off sends a signal that it’s easy to take advantage of the system

Trust People

While it’s important to be firm about getting work done and not gaming the system, flexible work arrangements don’t work without a certain amount of trust. If you’ve hired well, your team will appreciate the options they have, and make use of their time so they’re most productive. If you haven’t hired well, those who are slacking or just don’t make the cut will become clear very quickly. As Jennifer Owens, editorial director of Working Mother magazine says:

“As long as I can get to you and get the job done, I kind of don’t care.”

Nervous about testing out flexible work hours? Don’t be. You can always tweak processes if you find out your original plan isn’t working. Another tip? Try it yourself. Be a role model and practice flexible work arrangements as you’d like to see them emulated in the workplace. Breathe a little and remember the benefits—not only will your company likely save money, but 25% of workers who are allowed to work from home experience lower stress levels, and are 76% more loyal to their companies! Welcome to an exciting new future of balance and flexibility.

 

9 Ways to Turn Introvert into Leader – Joan Selby

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There is something really adorable in being an introvert. You keep a unique little world in your head and nurture it as your comfort zone. You don’t need other people to make you satisfied and have your own mental routine. But it’s usually difficult for introverts to step out and become leaders.

Believe me, I needed quite some time to figure out how to approach people and develop social skills. I had to win many inner battles and work against my basic instincts to advance in my career. But I managed to do it thanks to my commitment and good strategy.

Leaders are not exclusively extroverts

I guess you’ve heard of Bill Gates or Barack Obama? But what you probably didn’t know is that these two guys are actually introverts by nature. There are dozens of examples which prove that you don’t need to be an extrovert to become a good leader.

It’s not about the way you make clever jokes, use non-verbal communication or charm people with your attitude. On the contrary, it’s all about being original and creative enough to generate new ideas. Erik Coggins, a career coach at SuperiorPapers, recently noted: “Most introverts have a powerful imagination, which allows them to come up with great ideas. They don’t really need to improve their social skills – they need to adjust it instead. That’s how they become leaders.”

Leadership manual for introverts

This may seem like mission impossible but it’s actually simple once you get to follow a good plan. Here are 9 very practical ways that can turn you into the leader.

  • Make empathy your advantage

Unlike the extroverts, introverts have a strong feeling of empathy. You can use it to learn about other people’s emotions and then help them solve personal or professional problems. That’s exactly the way how genuine leaders gather their followers, so don’t be afraid of making empathy your advantage.

  • Practice face-to-face communication

Introverts are solo players and they mostly think that the crowd of people cannot completely understand their ideas. This is why they don’t like addressing a larger audience. But their strength is face-to-face communication. It gives introverts the chance to listen and analyze the speaker in front of them. It’s the right method to build trust and prove your leadership skills.

  • Take an occasional break

Leaders work hard but it also demands a good rest. For introverts, the best way to freshen up is to spend some time alone and regenerate. It will help you clear your mind, gain new strength and find focus. Don’t forget to indulge yourself before you go out there and serve others.

  • Acknowledge your leadership style

Most people will consider it strange to be on the same team with such a quiet leader. In order to keep things under control, you should let everybody know that it’s just the way you manage things. It doesn’t mean that you will allow anarchy. You just run operations smoothly and resolve problems quietly.

  • Make use of collaboration tools

The good thing about new technologies is that they allow you to communicate with groups or individuals remotely. This is very convenient for introverts, who usually feel that it’s easier to write group mails than to organize meetings. There are also various online collaboration tools that enable introvert leaders to keep track of team progress.

  • Act as if you like it

Sometimes there is not a single trick that can save you from public appearances. You will have to speak in front of the bigger number of spectators or make a business presentation for the partners. In this case, the best advice for you is to act like you are having the time of your life. Leaders sometimes have to be pretenders, too.

  • Explore

You enjoy a private time the most but you also learn the most by experiencing new things. Therefore, you need to explore new areas of life both personally and professionally. You probably won’t be thrilled to leave your comfort zone but you’ll definitely benefit from it.

  • Stay wise

The fact that you are peaceful and quiet suggests that you usually keep an eye on everything around you. This sort of virtue will help you big time while solving disputes within your team. If you need to decide between the two opposing claims, stay wise and listen to your intuition. You have been monitoring your team for a while and rely on your impressions to make the conclusion.

  • Don’t neglect your crew

As the introvert, you are not going to waste words. But it’s essential to maintain a certain level of communication with your team on a daily basis. Don’t forget that they need your instructions to complete the planned tasks, so don’t make your introvert nature get in the way.

Conclusion

Nobody’s perfect. Whether you are the extrovert or the introvert, you must have a full set of virtues and flaws. But it doesn’t mean that you are not able to work on it and improve the elements of your personality which could make you a true leader. As the introvert, you must have too much creativity and imagination to keep it all for yourself. Don’t hesitate to use these traits and show the world what you are made of.

Joan Selby is a Life coach, former teacher and fancy shoelover. A writer by day and reader by night. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.