In this episode, we welcome Marcy Fortnow of Engaging Play. Engaging Play creates customized, interactive events to address your organization’s needs and bring your team together. Marcy also teaches communication, uses interactive and competitive games, and designs and leads original community builders. Engaging Play is an investment in your people to enhance your company’s culture, develop productive, loyal employees, and produce amazing results. Covid19 has been especially impactful on Marcy growing the business because efforts had to switch from face-to-face activities to virtual team building. Listen today on ways of rethinking how we connect with our staff and colleagues to improve moral.
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Engaging Employees Series – Five Actions to Build Community
By: Marcy Fortnow – Founder of Engaging Play
Date: Originally Published – April 2020
It is hard to believe, many of us are still working virtually! Some of us, certainly the people I am connecting with, my friends, colleagues, and clients, are feeling lost and disconnected. Some are struggling with low motivation and low energy. All of us are missing that sense of community that our work place world provided, and it can be lonely.
Creating community is so important now. It is not “too much” and your efforts will be appreciated. As Helen Keller said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”. Great Leaders create community for others.
To see this discussion in video, check here.
Here are five ideas that create community in your organization.
- Virtual lunch breaks or happy hour – Lots of organizations are implementing these and I am hearing participants are having fun! People need a replacement for gathering spots like the lunch room or the coffee station. Create this opportunity for your team to gather together remotely.
- Asynchronous socializing – There is still a need for friendly non-work related conversation and connection. Consider using messaging tools, Slack, or even text and email for personal connection. Encourage individuals, small groups, and departments to meet up in this way.
- Virtual Clubs – Foster community and build stronger relationships by creating clubs that speak to people’s interests. Form book clubs, movie discussion groups, or music channels for people to develop deeper connections.
- Stay Active together – Look for ways to keep your community active and supportive at the same time. Create a step challenge or find a low cost subscription for your team to a yoga or exercise studio for classes. Have participants register their progress on your company’s google drive so they can share their successes.
- Make time for Celebrations – Recognition and celebrations are more important than ever. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and work accomplishments as a team. Successes, milestones, and celebrations should be called out and applauded in your community!
Intentionally creating and maintaining a healthy community will help keep your employees connected, engaged, and more motivated. You can implement any or all of these ideas with your distributed team and build a more positive culture.
If you would like more support around building better connected engaged teams, scroll down and fill in the contact form below and I will be in touch! Looking forward to supporting you!
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Engaging Employees Series – Five Actions to Build Trust
By: Marcy Fortnow – Founder of Engaging Play
Date: Originally Published – June 2020
Trust is on the decline in every part of our society. Even before the Novel Corona Virus came along, trust in government, trust in organizational leadership, and trust in the media, were dropping. In a research study done in 2018 by the Grossman Group, trust in our society had fallen by 43%. With recent developments such as Covid-19, illuminated racial justice inequities, false information from government agencies and political leaders, and economic disruption, I imagine trust has fallen even further.
As a leader in your organization, it is imperative that your employees trust you. Trust is a fundamental element, especially in times of change. Lack of trust in a manager results in employee dissatisfaction, low motivation and morale, and reduced productivity. If you would like to view the video on this, click here.
I have a colleague who, as the business owner, had to lay off a member of her team. The firing understandably upset the entire staff. In another instance, a client who was implementing a reorganization in her firm, was rightly concerned that everyone involved was feeling unsettled and unsure of their future. In both cases, failure to build and maintain trust in their leadership affects their employee’s loyalty, morale, and the quality and productivity of work. Low trust will also impact staff member’s engagement, team collaboration, and inhibit future innovation.
Here are 5 things leaders can do to build trust with their employees:
- Be ready to intentionally work on building trust because it takes effort. Trust is not something that happens quickly or in one shot. Trust is built over repeated consistent behavior. A commitment to building trust is one of the best commitments a leader can make. Trust is the foundation of all positive interpersonal traits.
- Be honest, open, and transparent. Always tell the truth even when the truth isn’t pretty. Be conscious to communicate what is real and true, whether people want to hear it or not. Communication needs to be timely, relevant, and focused on what the employee needs to know and why. Honesty and transparency can sometimes be challenging, but in the end, it will build trust.
- Listen. A good listener is more trustworthy because they have taken the time to understand another’s perspective. Be supportive and giving and recognize that leadership is about others, it’s not about you.
- Be consistent with your actions and your communication. Set a consistent schedule for team and 1 on 1 meetings and keep them. There is nothing more troubling to an employee than when their manager cancels a meeting with them. Lots of leaders fell off the consistency wagon when the virus hit, but that is exactly when they needed to be communicating and exhibiting consistency even more. Consistent behavior builds trust.
- Reinforce the culture of your organization. Especially now, make every effort to demonstrate the traits you want to see in your people. If you expect your team to hit their deadlines, then you need to hit yours. If collaboration is a wanted part of your culture, then build opportunities for people to collaborate and positively reinforce cooperative efforts. This is not the time to let your culture go unchecked, so take an active role in making positive culture happen. Help to build relationships and community among your team members. Reinforce respect and accountability within the group.
Building trust as a leader takes focus and effort, but the rewards are great. Trust forms the basis of all relationships and so improving trust can positively impact morale, productivity, decision making, and teamwork. Trust in leadership will allow an employee’s value to shine through to the organization. Each environment is unique, so if you would like to learn more about building trust and encouraging trust in your team, contact me, Marcy Fortnow at engagingplay.com for a consultation.
Tools of the Trade (TotT) Series – Slack helps keep communication manageable and tight
By: Zach Detweiler, Ph. D.
Date: January 6, 2021
Tags: Slack, communication, organization, software, apps
Handwritten letters are a lovely gesture to the individual receiving them, but in a business setting, this form of communication was made obsolete by email. Email arrived instantaneously and was disseminated readily, as well as provided a form that was amenable to record keeping.
However, email is not perfect. If you have ever tried to locate a specific, month-old email, then you have likely felt the pain induced by wading through hundreds to thousands of emails, especially with certain services (*looks bitterly at Outlook). Additionally, much like actual mail, anyone who possesses your address has equal opportunity to draw your attention and fill your mailbox. American workers receive an average of 126 emails a day and over 50% of all emails are spam.(1,2)
The advent of text messaging took connectivity even further, allowing constant communication. It also narrowed down channels to those who had your phone number and allowed important information to be supplied omni presently to key stakeholders. However, the use of text messaging as an official method employed by a business has remained unusual due to tracking issues, lack of structure, and the superficial depth of information that is transmitted. Communication among a group in an organization is a challenge. Email and text chains rapidly get convoluted, lose focus, and are difficult to capture and disseminate. This becomes even more difficult if the content is highly technical, as it is often necessary to cite extra-thread content (articles, reports, data, etc.). The normal tools used by businesses do not serve communication needs adequately. Now, software such as that provided by Slack, is trying to bring communication one step further into the modern, computing-information age. Slack provides a platform that allows you to establish communication channels between selected parties on selected topics. The key being intentional “binning” of communication. Slack allows documents to be attached to a channel thread, ensuring that relevant information can be readily viewed.Slack is a freemium product, with up to 10,000 messages and 10 integrations with other tools available for free, and a host of other features available at cost. Standard service equates to $6.67 per month, per person, which allows unlimited messages, unlimited apps, group video, screen sharing, and secure connections with external organizations. Further administrative tools, priority service, and data loss prevention security can be had with the upgraded packages.
Forrester found that Slack provided an ROI of 338% over three years, paying for itself in less than 6 months.(3 )Interestingly, the report finds that roughly two-thirds of the return were due to technical team productivity improvements, and one-third due to improvements in general productivity. There were minimal returns in replacing other tools, speaking to the need for Slack to fill a communication niche. Some of the major attributions for these savings were the reduction in engineers having to switch between applications and interfaces to view relevant information and tasks, as well as supporting both synchronous and asynchronous communication. Return was generated in the form of freeing up engineer time by decreasing the number of emails and the amount of time spent in status meetings. This methodology found similar, though lesser, returns to the general productivity of an organization.
In my experience, Slack provides a vastly superior platform for communication for several reasons. It is effectively a pre-organized messaging app, integrates documents and data seamlessly into threads, and provides a much-needed balance between the formality and delay of emails with the informality and expediency of text messaging.As with most communication and connectivity tools, there is the risk of allowing work-life to overstep into home-life. In order to ensure buy in on use of such a tool, rules and intended use should be established organizationally, and it is important to avoid policies that force employees to be “on” 24-7. That said, remote work and the flexibility demanded by today’s work force are well supported by the use of Slack.
If you feel like communication could be better at work, or in other settings (Slack is replacing message boards and community sites all over), then I would recommend trying Slack FOR FREE. I am not familiar with other similar platforms such as Telegram and Discord, but these are among the potential alternatives you may be interested in. I think you’ll be surprised by how much simpler communication can be and how effective Slack is at tightening up group communication in a technical setting.
(1) Email Usage Statistics in 2019 https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2019/07/email-usage-statistics-in-2019/ (accessed Jan 6, 2021).
(2) 10 Interesting Facts & Statistics About Email https://neverbounce.com/blog/10-interesting-facts-statistics-about-email (accessed Jan 6, 2021).
(3) Slack. Introducing Forrester’s new study: “The Total Economic Impact of Slack for Technical Teams” https://slack.com/blog/productivity/forrester-study-total-economic-impact-of-slack-technical-teams (accessed Jan 6, 2021)