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    Message of the Week 17 - 21 August 2020

    Week 34
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    Managing virtual productivity

    Back in early April, when we were just starting to become acquainted with life under lockdown, I spoke about “Virtual productivity in a time of lockdown” in our week 13 newsletter. At that point, we still believed life would return to “normal” in a couple of months, but here we are five months later, and now virtual work and meetings are the main way for teams to stay connected and productive. 

    As we continue to settle into this reality, where the lines between work and home are blurred, I believe it’s important to define boundaries and also to keep focus on the outcomes rather than just doing work. 

    As business owner, Chris Myers says in this Forbes article, “clarity must come first”.So how do we achieve clarity and ensure that we are all aligned in our understanding of our tasks and goals?

    I believe the answer lies in this article which offers Dr Penny Pullan’s “6 Steps” where leaders acts as the facilitator to create an environment and team norms, where the whole team, and the individuals within it, can thrive and flourish together, producing great work.

    Assuming that meetings are one of the cornerstones of driving accountability and productivity, the 6 steps create a framework and consistency across all online meetings and, in essence, follow the format outlined below.

    • We are here to: this stipulates the point of the meeting, and is agreed upon by all members. For example, “We are here to review sales targets”. 
    • Today we will: This element fleshes out objectives of the meeting, such as “Update on progress made; review targets; agree on next steps.”
    • Our plan: Outlines the format of the meeting, such as time allocation for each point of discussion, break times and start and finish times of the meeting.
    • Who’s doing what: It’s important to engage all team members of the meeting by allocating tasks, such as “time keeper”, “minute taker” etc.
    • How we work together: At this point, the team leader encourages the group to agree on how they will work together towards productivity. Actions could include, restating the objective, clearly stating your name before speaking; only allowing one person to talk at a time; muting your microphone if you are in a noisy environment, and so on.
    • What’s next: At this point, the leader tells the team what needs to happen next, and how the agreed actions will be followed up.

    As it happens, the 6 Steps align with Kyocera’s philosophy of Amoeba Management. This philosophy talks about organising the company into small groups called amoebas, which operate on a self-supporting basis. Amoeba Management encourages leaders to develop managerial awareness, and teams to practice “management by all”. 

    By enhancing a sense of participation and ownership among employees, motivated by Amoeba Management and implemented through the 6 Steps, we can clarify the responsibilities of each member, ensure transparency in every detail, and enable accurate accountability and measurements of efficiency. We believe these are useful tools to use both internally and with our partners.

    Michelle Frenzel - Human Resources Manager - Kyocera Document Solutions South Africa

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