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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

C-Suite Advisory

Enjoying Great Productivity? Look at the Whole Chessboard.

I’m typically a true optimist. I look at the glass half-full and do my best to see the good in every situation.  If I stare at the glass long enough, however, the water will eventually evaporate, and it won’t be half-full anymore. I love to focus on what’s good, but I also recognize that I have to be mindful of the whole situation if I expect it to stay high-performing or, better yet, make it even better over time.

If you’re like so many CEOs I’ve spoken with lately, you’re watching your distributed work teams collaborate from their homes – doing so more cooperatively and achieving greater results than when everyone was schlepping into the office every day.  Some teams are leaping tall buildings in a single bound while simultaneously wrestling with myriad personal challenges during this pandemic. That said, if you look at the whole situation, it should give you pause. By all means celebrate what’s happening now, yet it’s also critical to see the complete picture as you prepare for the future. That’s what good CEOs do, and it’s what they do better together.

In recent weeks, I’ve engaged in numerous conversations with CEOs in their peer groups, who have talked enthusiastically about the performance of their teams, while also voicing causes for concern.  Here are the challenges that are arising most frequently:

  1. Burnout – This is a marathon not a sprint.  Getting off to a fast start is great, but it’s a long race, and maintaining the energy it will require to sustain or even improve upon these high productivity levels will also require coaching your employees to take breaks during the day to help with their mental and physical health.  Remind your employees to take time to walk their dog, play with their kids, go for a run, or listen to some music. It will make them more productive and help them continue the race without bonking along the way.
  2. Obscurity – It can be hard enough for many employees to feel that anyone really sees how hard they are working when they are in the office, let alone while they are at home.  Imagine how invisible one could be left to feel.  Find ways to let individuals and their teams know that their hard work and accomplishments are visible to their leaders and their peers within the company beyond their supervisor and fellow teammates.
  3. Isolation – Isolation is obscurity’s crazy cousin.  As social beings, we can start to feel isolated and alone really quickly – especially if we are living alone.  Scheduling regular work meetings and team social gatherings (that can even involve family members when applicable) can help create a sense of connectedness that can be compromised in a virtual work setting if you’re not attentive to it.
  4. Insolation – When we become too insolated, our thinking tends to become more siloed.  It’s a tough enough problem when everyone comes to a central office. This is where the work of cross-functional work teams becomes essential, so that departmental leaders can provide a window into the business that many employees don’t get when they are heads down working on their particular projects.
  5. Inspiration – A healthy dose of celebration can serve as an antidote to burnout, obscurity, isolation, and insolation.  The more you can creatively celebrate small wins along the way, the better you can help keep spirits high.  You can also inspire your employees by showing and telling them you care about THEM as human beings often as possible.

I enjoy watching CEOs help one another see the whole chess board.  They not only expand each other’s view; they also help one other discover meaning in what they see.  These kinds of exchanges serve to inform everyone about their next move.  When it comes to productivity, don’t take for granted that what you are experiencing now will be what you’ll see in two weeks or a month from now.  Take steps today to address potential burnout, obscurity, isolation, insolation, and inspiration to keep your team healthy, happy and productive for the long haul.  Don’t take it from me, take it from your CEO peers.


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Leo Bottary
Leo Bottary is the founder and managing partner of Peernovation, LLC. He is a sought-after thought leader on peer advantage, an emerging discipline dedicated to strategically engaging peers to realize your business and life goals. A popular author, educator, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, he advises both individuals and organizations and co-hosts the What Anyone Can Do podcast. Leo's first book, which he coauthored with former Vistage CEO Leon Shapiro, is titled The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership Growth & Success. His new book, What Anyone Can Do: How Surrounding Yourself with the Right People Will Drive Change, Opportunity, and Personal Growth, was released in September 2018. Leo is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.