Here we are on the Friday before Father’s Day. In this case, it’s my first Father’s Day as a dad. My son was born just a few months ago and I have to say, it’s pretty amazing being a dad. I have learned so many things since the little guy was born!

  1. Changing a little boy’s diaper requires you to be far more agile than I ever realized.
  2. Diapers are not as foolproof as once thought.
  3. Eight hours of continuous sleep is about as likely to happen as winning the lottery.

Despite these lessons, it has been an absolutely amazing time. What I really didn’t expect though, was how video collaboration would work its way into these early days of parenting. Recently a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, was home watching his recently born child. Said friend was not as “active” of a participant in child care as one would hope and on this particular day his wife was out with friends.

At around 2pm my phone beeps with a text. “Are you around? Help!” I quickly pick up the phone and call him. Apparently, my friend is unable to figure out the finer points of a diaper change. Really? Apparently his wife always handles it and he didn’t think to ask when she went out. So I say, let me show you.  I fire up my iPad and connect to him via video. He’s on his smartphone and I quickly show him (with my son as a model) how to appropriately change a diaper. Crisis averted. Or so I thought.

About an hour later, he calls me back on video. “What about bottles?” Again, I’m dumbfounded.  And because I’m somewhat of a mean guy, I decide I need to share his incompetence with another friend.  So I quickly set-up a cloud meet-me room so the three of us can all meet over video and my other friend can see just how desperate this guy is.  Ha. I’m terrible, I know.  We successfully help him through the bottle and the crisis ends, again.

In all seriousness, it was amazing how video permeated through a casual Saturday at home. It made me realize just how ubiquitous this technology is becoming. I believe the key lesson learned here, for me anyway, is that video gives you the power to stay connected with business colleagues, family, and friends while providing the means of making fun of those you love most!

Happy Father’s Day!

What happens when you put a Cisco CTS 1300 and a couple of super genius IVCi audio visual designers in the same room?

A panoramic camera view that allows all three room segments to be captured, as well as, auto switches to the person speaking for a close up view.

With the help of several magic boxes, a few third party tools, and a whole lot of IVCi ingenuity, this truly unique design enables collaboration by not only allowing participants to view the presenter, but to view the other participants reactions.

Now you can easily bounce back and forth between meeting participants without losing sight of what really matters!

Video conferencing benefits managers of remote workers in several ways, including strengthening relationship through face-to-face communications. But what are some other ways managers can use video to increase motivation among geographical dispersed teams?

Collaborative goal setting.

Participation in the goal setting process increases both employee commitment and goal attainment as employees accept greater ownership and responsibility. During this process, managers should make sure goals and incentives are aligned with the firm’s overall mission and goals. For example, paying a bonus based on quantity of work produced is counterproductive if the firm’s goals are based on quality of work produced.

After goals have been set, managers should review performance on a quarterly or even monthly basis. Periodic feedback about progress improves performance and accomplishment of goals because potential issues or areas for improvement are addressed rather than put off until the next review period.  This allows employees to immediately correct their actions thereby increasing performance. Additionally, periodic reviews allow managers to strengthen relationships with their team members through open and honest communications.

Here are a few additional tips regarding goals:

  1. Difficult goals produce better performance but people may abandon goals they perceive as impossible.
  2. Specific and measurable hard goals are more effective than “do your best” goals.
  3. In teams, individual goals can produce negative results as employees become more competitive and less cooperative.

The last piece of the puzzle revolves around possible incentives for achieving goals. While monetary bonuses are typically the “go to” choice; they are not always feasible nor the most effective in motivating employees. Studies have shown that when tasks become more complicated individuals are more motivated by the opportunity to work on more challenging projects than a monetary reward. An interesting video from RSA Animate goes into a little more detail about the surprising things that really motivate us.

The bottom line is, encourage participation in the goal setting process and get creative when developing rewards. Not only will productivity and performance improve, employees will be happier and more fulfilled with their job.

 

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.

“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.