Build Trust with Virtual Team Members

 24th August 2016 by gihan

Build Trust with Virtual Team Members

In an office, people build trust through personal interactions. They work in the same building, park in the same car park, and eat at the same canteen or local cafés. They bring in birthday cakes, send their children to the same schools, and walk their dogs in the same park. They take the same holidays, support the same sporting teams, and watch the same TV shows. Even a culturally diverse team has many things in common.

This isn’t as easy with virtual team members because they just aren’t in the same place. You might try to re-create the same opportunities – for example, insisting they come in to the office from time to time – but that’s only a stop-gap solution, isn’t always possible, and can even cause resentment.

Instead, recognise that telecommuters build trust through work-related cues. They look for reliability, consistency, integrity (keeping promises), and responsiveness as indicators of trust. This is good news for you, because these factors also directly affect productivity and performance. Get these things right to build trust, and you boost productivity at the same time.

On a practical level, here are some standards you can set for your team’s everyday operations:

  • Set clear deadlines, and commit to meeting them.
  • Clarify expectations about how people respond to requests (for example, e-mail responses within one working day).
  • Choose appropriate communication channels based on these expectations (for example, using the phone, not e-mail, for urgent requests).
  • Set deadlines and milestones for a reason, and explain the reasons (“I need that delivered by 1.30 tomorrow, so I can present it to the board at 2pm”).

Don’t just dictate these as arbitrary rules; explain why they are important and how they affect the team’s performance. For example, somebody who delivers a report one hour late might see it as a minor problem, but it could affect a team member in another country and time zone, who can’t complete a presentation slide deck in time for an important meeting the next day.

Because these issues are so important to building trust, monitor them closely and act quickly if you see problems.

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Step Up and Stand For Something

 18th August 2016 by gihan

Step Up and Stand For Something

Great leaders aren’t afraid to stand for something that matters to them, even if it means being unpopular. They have a strong personal brand based on what they stand for, and built on two things: their expertise (what they know) and their network (who they know). That personal brand drives their decision-making, attracts the best followers, and makes a mark in their world.

You can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers:

“Curation sequence cuts down lotsa work for me.”

“The RANT in Claim Category, Position/Angle, RANT”

“Pull/Push levels”

“Three steps to work out what I stand for professionally.”

“The three apps to use to curate and share content”

“All of the content was connected in a practical useful way, however, and are new to me, thanks :)”

“category position rant”

“The apps for curating and sharing content”

“To think about the category, position, rant”

“The tools to make sharing info more efficient”

“You gave me some direction on how to start building my personal profile. I have purchased my domain name and now have some idea of what to use it for”

“Gained a lot!! Position and Rant was an elegant branding insight.”

“The idea of creating a short, succinct rant – thanks Gihan”

“All of the webinar”

The Future Proof Webinar Series

The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future - what's ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I'll cover an important topic about the future - for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I'll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

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Think Project, Not Goal

 16th August 2016 by gihan

Think Project Not Goal

When the Institute of the Future identified ten key skills for the future workforce, one of the most important in the list is what they call “Cognitive Load Management”.

This is what we used to call time management, and has expanded over time to include concepts such as productivity, goal setting, stress management, work/life balance, and information overload.

Cognitive load management is the same basic concept, but emphasises the skills of managing large amounts of information, interruptions, and demands on our time and attention. It reflects the reality of our world now, where many traditional productivity techniques simply don’t work anymore. For example:

  • We used to set 12-month goals, but the world is changing so fast that they become obsolete.
  • You could shut yourself off for hours at a time to do uninterrupted work, but now we’re too easily distracted and interrupted (and need to be available).
  • You had all your team available during fixed office hours, but they now want more flexible working hours.
  • They were happy to put the organisation’s goals first (in exchange for fair pay), but now expect to achieve their own goals as well.

As a result, you need new strategies for productivity and performance.

Think projects, not goals.

One of the most important productivity skills for the future is to think in terms of projects rather than goals.

As I said, setting a “long-term” goal (and even 12 months is long now!) no longer works because the world changes so fast that the goal becomes obsolete.

So create projects instead.

A project is a small, clearly-defined job. Like a goal, it has an outcome, but it also has a plan attached to it. And it has a shorter timeframe.

Sending a man to the Moon was a goal. Each individual rocket on that journey was a project.

I like 90-day projects.

When working on your business, launch a project every 90 days.

The nice thing about a 90-day project is that you can plan it with a reasonable amount of confidence. It’s long enough to do something significant, but short enough that the world won’t change too much around you. There might be the occasional change that means you have to adjust your plan, but you probably won’t have to throw it out altogether.

An additional benefit of 90-day projects is that they make performance reviews more useful. The typical annual performance review has limited value, and everybody does it reluctantly. But if you do it every 90 days instead, it becomes practical, useful, and motivating.

Every 90 days, choose one project for yourself and one for your team as a whole (with their input). Then ask each team member to choose a project as well. It helps if that project is related to the team project, but that is not essential.

These individual projects are as important as the team project because they acknowledge what every individual (including you) brings to your workplace. As important as it is to work together as a team, it’s also important for individuals to thrive and flourish.

If you’re already an experienced project manager, you could now take the 90-day project and treat it like any other project – with milestones, tasks, resources, dependencies, and so on. However, this is probably too much detail for such a small project. A simpler approach is to break this down week by week. That gives you about a dozen small, manageable chunks.

You have about 12 weeks to complete the project, so break it down week by week. Plan out the 12 weeks, with a milestone at the end of each week. If you know the path you need to take, you might be able to do this easily. If not, make a rough plan anyway, knowing you can adjust it as things become clearer.

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The Skills for the Future

 10th August 2016 by gihan

The Skills for the Future

In the 20th century, leaders identified goals for their organisation, described the jobs required to meet those goals, and hired people with the right skills to fill those job descriptions. Over time, people build on their skills and move into different roles, climbing a well-designed career ladder until retirement.

That’s no longer the case.

Our world is changing so fast that neither goals nor roles are clear and well-defined. The skills you need for the future aren’t the same as the skills you have now, and the best people have multiple careers (not even just multiple jobs) over their working life.

It’s impossible to know exactly what skills we will need in the future, but we can be reasonably confident they won’t be technical, task-oriented skills – because those skills will become obsolete through automation and artificial intelligence. Instead, the most future-proof skills will be higher-order thinking skills.

The Institute for the Future (based at the University of Phoenix, USA) has identified ten such skills . They identified these skills by examining six global megatrends and drivers of change, and assessing the skills most valuable for coping with (and leading) these trends.

The Institute for the Future doesn’t group the ten skills in any particular order, but it makes sense to do so, based on how these skills apply to you. Broadly, think of them at three levels:

  1. Assimilation: The first three skills – Cognitive Load Management, Computational Thinking, and Novel & Adaptive Thinking – are about absorbing information from the outside world.
  2. Integration: The next three skills – Sense-making, Transdisciplinarity, and Design Mindset – are about applying information to the outside world.
  3. Collaboration: The final four skills – Social Intelligence, New Media Literacy, Virtual Collaboration, and Cross-Cultural Competency – are about relationships with other people.

Listen To the Episode

Listen to the episode here:

The Fit for the Future Podcast brings you regular ideas, interviews and insights about how you, your teams and your organisation can become fit for the future.

More ways to engage with me:

5 TED Talk Secrets To Revamp Your Online Presentations

 3rd August 2016 by gihan

5 TED Talk Secrets To Revamp Your Online Presentations

What’s your favourite TED Talk?

If you’re a fan of TED Talks, I’m sure you will have your favourites (and if you don’t know about TED, check out – but be prepared to lose hours as you get engrossed in big ideas presented by world-class experts). Mine include some of the classics, such as:

  • Ken Robinson talking about creativity and education
  • Dame Stephanie Shirley talking about ambitious women
  • All of Hans Rosling’s presentations – and seeing the way he constantly reinvents himself as a presenter
  • All of Bill Gates’ presentations – a surprisingly engaging presenter (for a nerd!), and it’s interesting to see his evolution as a presenter
  • and many more …

TED has set a new standard for presentations.

We can thank TED for setting a new standard in presentation skills, and millions of people in businesses around the world should be eternally grateful. Audiences expect far more now from presenters – even in stock-standard, “boring” business presentations.

That’s a good thing in general, but it can be a challenge for the typical business presenter, and sometimes even for professional speakers. Most presentations are not ideas that change the world, delivered by “the” world expert on the topic.

It’s even more challenging if you’re delivering an online presentation – which is becoming more common now. Even if you’re trying to learn presentation techniques from the best TED Talks, many of these techniques don’t work in online presentations.

For example:

  • People always relate to stories, but online audiences are more impatient, and will switch off (literally!) unless you get to the point fast.
  • You would like to use the energy in the room to take your audience on a journey, but they are individuals sitting alone in front of a computer screen.
  • TED audiences are “warmed up” because they expect to hear from world-class experts with big ideas, but you need to build that rapport and credibility.
  • It’s more difficult to use humour and surprise because you don’t get feedback from your audience members (and they don’t get feedback from each other).

But all is not lost!

You can still learn from the best TED Talks, and use or adapt these techniques to make your next online presentation zing!

For example:

  • Use more humour, but in a way that doesn’t need a bunch of people to burst out laughing.
  • Tell more stories, because stories are important. But use more slides for your story, so the online audience can see it unfold.
  • Have one main message, but add a clear structure to “signpost” the presentation.
  • Design better slides, but you need to do even better than TED, because your slides are the visuals (not just visual aids).
  • Engage the audience regularly, but in more direct, interactive ways than just mentally invoking intrigue, curiosity, and surprise.

Learn More …

Of course, that’s just an overview, but I will be discussing these things (and more) in detail in a free webinar next week …

Join me in this webinar, hosted by Citrix (the people behind GoToWebinar, GoToTraining and GoToMeeting), as I share the secrets of the best TED speakers, and show you how to use them in your online presentations.

In this live, interactive webinar, you will learn how to:

  • Build rapport with a remote audience
  • Design attractive slides (fast!) to enhance your message
  • Selectively use your webcam to provide a more personal connection
  • Shift the energy regularly with interactive engagement techniques

All of these techniques apply just as well to in-person presentations. So if you make any presentations at all, come along to this webinar and learn how to take your presentations to another level.

When: Thursday 11 August 2016, 11am BST (U.K.), 6pm Perth, 8pm Sydney/Melbourne

Register Now

Authority Marketing

 29th July 2016 by gihan


Are you a pushy promoter, a preferred supplier, a recognised expert, or a trusted authority? In this webinar, I show you how to leverage a published book to build your authority and attract business rather than chasing it.

In this webinar, I talked about many ways to turn an authority product – a book – into other marketing tools:

  • Extract articles for your blog and newsletter
  • Publish a chapter as a special report
  • Summarise each chapter and send it as an online course
  • Read it out loud and record an audio book
  • Burn the audio book to CD
  • Record each chapter as a podcast episode
  • Create short video tutorials for key concepts
  • Present individual topics as webinars
  • Create a slide show of the main points

Watch the webinar recording here:

Fast Track Your Book – Masterclass

You might already know about my Business Book in a Box service, where we take the ideas in your head and write a book for you.

If you’re happy to do the writing yourself, but don’t know how to turn it into a book, you might be interested in my new “Fast Track Your Book” Masterclasses, coming up soon in Sydney and Melbourne.

This is a one-day program to teach you the process of writing a book – including structure, layout, cover design, ISBN, barcodes, illustrations, and access to all the suppliers I use myself. You’ll walk out with a detailed outline of the book, the knowledge of how to fill in the content, and a realistic action plan for getting it done.

Find Out More

You Have Just ONE Job …

 27th July 2016 by gihan

When I was in Melbourne recently, Philippe Guichard gave me a gift of his ingenious device, Cablestop:


Cablestop solves just one problem, but it’s a common problem: When you unplug your phone after charging it, the charger cable slides off the table because there’s nothing to hold it there anymore. You’ve had that happen to you, right?

Cablestop solves that by pressing a weight on the cable.

It’s a simple device with an elegant design.

What simple problem could YOU solve?

You don’t have to build the next world-beating product or service, and you don’t have to build in all the bells and whistles. Just solve ONE problem – as long as it’s a problem your customers and clients care about.

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The Workplace of the Future

 21st July 2016 by gihan

The Workplace of the Future

For the last 200 years, the office with a permanent staff has been the default work environment of the knowledge worker. But it wasn’t in the past, and it’s not necessarily the best for the future. What would the workplace look like if offices weren’t an option?

For example …

  • ​WHERE would work happen? Everywhere and anywhere – including homes, out and about, in co-working spaces, and in shared home spaces
  • HOW would work get done? Distributed work would be the norm, not the exception.
  • WHEN would work happen? Whenever it suits the individual, as long as the results meet the business goals.
  • WHO would do the work? The best people for the job – not just the people who happen to be employed by the business at a specific time.
  • WHY do we work? Because we want to, not because we have to. 

Listen To the Episode

Listen to the episode here:

The Fit for the Future Podcast brings you regular ideas, interviews and insights about how you, your teams and your organisation can become fit for the future.

More ways to engage with me: