We’ve all heard the famous story of Mike Smith and Dick Rowe who turned down the Beatles because “four-piece groups with guitars are finished.” This was probably one of the worst business decisions in history and today’s executives are doing everything in their power to avoid the same demise. There are several secrets to successful decisions but teamwork and collaboration seem to be the most talked about.  

But does teamwork guarantee success? Of course not, it can simply improve the chances for success if done properly.  So what makes a good team? 

Member Diversity: It wouldn’t have mattered if Smith and Rowe had three other people in the room with them; if they all had the same background and opinions the outcome would have been the same, except there would be four people to blame instead of two. An optimal team has members with a wide range of specialties and no two members having the same specialty. This ensures varying opinions from different perspectives and can minimize the chances missing something important. 

Open Communication: What good are several different opinions if they are never shared? If only two team members contribute while everyone else agrees because they are afraid to voice their concerns important aspects can be missed leading to a poor business decision. Interaction and involvement of all members is imperative and group leaders should encourage everyone to contribute their ideas. 

Strong & Clear Leadership: At any given time in a group there must be a strong leader; however, leadership should shift between members. Every team member should have an understanding of their individual leadership skills and be willing and able to function as a leader when needed. Strong and flexible leadership helps ensure high participation as team members utilize their strengths appropriately.

Mutual Trust: Trust is a key component in any team; members must be able to trust the integrity and positive intentions of the others on the team. There must also be mutual respect for the different approaches to work and conflict resolution among team members. This helps the team members form a cohesive unit based on integrity which is highly conducive to open communication. 

Conflict Resolution: Conflicts are guaranteed in any high performing team, as there will always be a couple varying opinions. Therefore, constructive conflict resolution is an integral process for teams to master. The process should revolve around identifying, defining and then resolving the problem with team members actively listening to each other. The focus should be on working toward a solution rather than assigning blame to team members. 

Great teams can produce impressive results; from new product ideas to strategic decision making. However, simply gathering a group of people together does not make a great team. It takes thought to select a diverse but passionate group of people who can work together in an efficient and effective manner for optimal results.

Video conferencing has truly changed the way that people communicate throughout their business and the world. The technology brings people together while providing significant cost savings and productivity gains. But, like any other technology there are always some things to watch out for and some common mistakes or “blunders” that can be made that make you look, well, terrible.

Recently I was presenting to our sales team and quickly came face to face with some of the blunders I’ve experience in the past. While I am proud to say that I did not experience all of these in this single meeting, I came close!

Here they are, in no particular order:

1) The Powerful Forehead: Video conferencing is all about seeing the other participants. When you setup for a call, make sure you have your camera positioned well.  As lovely as it is, the other side is not particularly interested in your forehead. Focus on positioning the camera as if you were a newscaster.  Get your face in the middle of the frame; keep the upper part of your shoulders visible and make sure you don’t put too much space above your head.  You don’t want to cut off your hair, but you also do not want participants to be able to see the taxidermy moose you have hanging behind you.

2) The Background Joke: What’s going on behind you in a video conference can be just as important as your personal appearance. Make sure your background is as minimal as possible. A solid color wall or sheet is a great way to avoid an unsightly distraction. If you can’t have a totally clear background, make sure you do your best to keep background items to a minimal. If you have book shelves behind you, make sure your HD camera is not picking up book titles you wouldn’t want people to see!

3) Can You Hear Me Now?: Sometimes when you’re on the phone you need to mute to avoid others hearing background noise or other side conversations. Video is the same. But what is important to remember is that while you may mute audio, people can still see you. If you are muted, make sure you unmute before proceeding. Nothing is worse than waxing prophetic about the latest company initiative or introducing a great idea, only to have your colleagues see your mouth moving and nothing coming out!

4) Johnny Come Lately: With a video conference, you might be connecting from your house, your office, or other remote location. Make sure you are on time! In fact, get yourself setup in your meeting environment a few minutes before the beginning of the call. This will allow you enough time to make sure your camera is positioned, your background is clear, and you have all notes/materials you need to work through the meeting.

5) Keep Your Eyes On The Prize!: As we’ve mentioned in other articles, it is important to remember that a video call requires you to be fully engaged and ready to speak/participate. Don’t let yourself be distracted (like my 3 month old who is so fascinated with our ceiling fan that he stares at it and forgets he’s hungry) and make sure that you do not let yourself wander off into other activities such as checking your email on your phone or worse, grooming!

These blunders can not only contribute to an unsuccessful call but can also negatively hurt your image with your colleagues. Don’t do that!

“From Telemedicine to applications in government, entertainment, science and education, Polycom is fueling collaboration, knowledge and understanding around the world.”

We are very excited to hear that Polycom, a leader the visual collaboration space, launched its new brand!   Their history in developing innovative video collaboration products is impressive and an increased focus on UC and mobile technologies will continue to change the way people collaboration. 

In a mission to unite devises, operating systems and service provides; Polycom will make video ubiquitous through secure and easy to use technology that delivers a high quality experience to everyone, everywhere.  Watch their video below.

These are exciting times in the visual collaboration space and we cannot wait to see what Polycom comes up with next!

It’s no secret that body language provides visual clues to the people you are speaking to; both positive and negatives signs of approval, engagement, confidence and more. Lately, the importance of body language during a video call has been lost in a sea of texts, emails and phone calls. 

It is extremely important to be cognizant of body language during a video call to avoid giving the wrong impression. Body language is a major sign of whether a person is actively engaged in a conversation or words are simply going in one ear and out the other. 

Everyone has shouted you’re not listening to me only to have the other party repeat verbatim what they just said. This is because there a difference between hearing what someone is saying and actually listening to what someone is saying.   

Show others you are actively engaged and listening by not fidgeting; this includes twirling a pen or your hair, rubbing your hands together incessantly, or picking at your nails.   Also make sure to avoid the following:   

  • Propping your head up with your hands as this just screams boredom
  • Checking your phone which conveys it is more important than the person speaking
  • Tapping your fingers repeatedly as it suggests you are in a rush to move on

Additionally, in business it is important to convey both confidence in yourself and your ideas, as well as, openness to others and their ideas.  This should be expressed by maintaining good posture; sitting up straight with your shoulders back and head up.  A closed body or defensive position can lead others to discount your idea or keep them from revealing their real opinions.   A few things to avoid are:

  • Narrowing your eyes as it gives the impression you do not like a person or an idea
  • Crossing your arms as it is a sign of resistance but can also be interpreted as egotism  
  • Holding a coffee mug or notebook in front of you, indicating shyness
  • Playing with your collar or necklace, showing doubt or uncertainty 

The bottom line is, pay attention to what your body is saying about you.  Showing confidence and openness can help your career as much as boredom and uncertainty can hinder it.

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” - Lee Iacocca

The Overlooked Benefit of Video

As a manager in the marketing department I have the opportunity to oversee a team of people who are all dedicated to helping push the power of video and its advantages across several industries.

Part of the marketing process includes coordinating campaigns and messaging across multiple locations. Creative ideas also need to continuously flow back and forth.  As a result, I am on video with several of my remote team members multiple times during the day.

What struck me this week is that I don’t even realize that I am speaking to someone who is thousands of miles away.

The power of video has made it possible to bring the entire marketing team together (located across three time zones and four states) and brainstorm ideas as if they were all sitting right next to me.  I can’t count the number of times a light bulb has gone off for me or a member of the team and I’ve seen that “AH HA” moment right in front of me, in glorious HD video.

It is very easy to get lost in the technology and its practical use cases; such as capturing a remote deposition, monitoring a manufacturing line, or managing a sales team. But what we cannot forget is the power of video to unify people and ideas.  When a team is able to come together and share their ideas there comes a point when a great idea or thought can take on a life of its own.  The idea itself becomes something even more powerful when everyone “gets it.”

Calculating the financial ROI of a VC/UC investment is certainly important. But when thinking about what you currently get out of your video conferencing investment or what you could get out of the technology, do not forget to include the human factor. This technology can break down barriers for your remote teams and allow them to work as a collective unit, in a way you never thought possible.