What is a ‘best fit’ working environment?

This blog has been re-published with the permission of Trina Hoefling and The Smart Workplace.

Trina Hoefling is a longstanding organisation and team development expert and master teacher at the University of Denver graduate school. For over 30 years Trina has been helping organisations and people establish virtual presence, bridge virtual distance and build strong relationships that span time and space. A keynote speaker at the inaugural EdVET 2017 in Melbourne in April, her Trina discusses how to become a SMART workplace.

“Best Fit” workplaces consider virtual and co-located work environments as viable places to get the job done. “Best Fit” workplaces find and build talented teams that align with the organization’s desired culture and goals. They’re SMART about how they design the organizational structure so that it “fits” the way work gets done and the way knowledge is stored.

SMART workplaces start by asking how ‘Best Fit’ their organisation is in 3 ways:

“Best Fit” Work Environment

Offices and team spaces should be resources, not status symbols or uninspiring mazes. Design business operations and workspaces to match what people need. Today’s workspace may call for more teaming spaces and drop-in work stations with fewer offices. This work environment needs to support teams being able to easily manage multiple relationships – customers, teammates, project groups, managers, task forces, and so on. Showing up for multiple team meetings by web conference is a significant “best fit” time-saver for busy contributors.

“Best Fit” Organizations

“Best fit” organizations may be wholly co-located, blend office workers with mobile workers, or be completely virtual. It depends on the purpose, business goals, stage of growth and focus. All these factors contribute to what organization design and structure is the “Best Fit”. The key to success is understanding that there is no one right way because “Best Fit” is different for every organization. When organizations assess how integrated operations need to be for people to easily contribute their best, they can adapt or redesign business practices for “Best Fit”.

“Best Fit” Teams

Team leaders want to hire team members who are a “Best Fit” for their group. When considering hiring new team member, consider these multiple factors:

  • Competence and expertise – This includes the obvious professional skills, but also includes less obvious virtual collaboration competence. (See TSW blog post The Power of True Collaboration.)
  • Functional representation
  • Cultural fit, and
  • Simple availability.

Cross-organizational teams require additional “fitting.” They need to share knowledge and “think” together across organizational boundaries. They need to develop communication that “fits” all the people represented. Develop communication agreements that enable appropriate information sharing and protect organizational boundaries, such as intellectual property and proprietary processes.

Disengaged virtual workers aren’t a ‘good fit’.  And it’s not their fault.

“Best Fit” organizations need team leaders who are strong in co-located and virtual work environments. I’ve facilitated heart-sinking conversations when the team member and manager realize that the feverish work completed was in the wrong direction. Communication had broken down across the miles. Individually and collectively, virtual teams produce results when they coordinate work, negotiate competing priorities, and check in with each other regularly

If virtual team members do not have a clear sense of how their work “best fits” the team’s purpose, three unfortunate outcomes usually result:

  • They disengage
  • They waste effort on work misaligned with the team’s needs
  • They miss performance goals or quality standards.

Strong team leaders work with their teams to develop communication habits and team agreements that “best fit” the needs of the work while easily bridging virtual distance.

Get rid of virtual distance among organizations, teams and employees. Facilitate connections among the network of teams and across geography and culture. Look for operational efficiency and continuous improvements while flexibly serving the customers. In other words, learn to be SMART about the way that you work.

EdVET 2017

At EdVET 2017 in April, Trina Hoefling will join a team of bright minds in online and technology-enhanced education including Andrew Douch, respected educational technology specialist and presenter on 21st Century learning. Presentations will include:

  • Teaching tomorrow’s workforce today
  • The many faces of social media: Attracting, supporting and retaining learners
  • Using tech to meet rapidly changing ESOL student expectations
  • Towards a Moodle quality assurance framework.

For more information and to register for this inspiring event please visit the EdVET 2017 website.

Teaching is my lifelong passion

This blog has been re-published with the permission of Trina Hoefling and The Smart Workplace.

Trina Hoefling is a longstanding organisation and team development expert and master teacher at the University of Denver graduate school. For over 30 years Trina has been helping organizations and people establish virtual presence, bridge virtual distance and build strong relationships that span time and space. Scheduled to visit Melbourne in April 2017, today Trina shares her journey into teaching.

In 4th grade I was partnered with Steve to be his coach. He was a cool kid getting poor grades. I was a quiet girl who got A’s. I can’t remember if his grades got better, but I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up – a teacher. I remember lining up my stuffed animals in rows on my bed, teaching what I studied in school.

I’m often teaching, whether I travel to the student, from a virtual classroom, or in a coaching conversation. Recently a grade school classmate asked me why I loved teaching and training so much. Another classmate answered for me so simply –

“Trina is driven to help people get to their goals. Teaching is the main way she does that.”

She was right; teaching people what they need to meet their goals IS what I do.

trina_photoI was a high school teacher in the early 80’s before computers and copy machines. My first teaching clothes were polyester double knit, that enduring fabric that absorbs chalk, mimeograph ink, and never ever wrinkled. I was a fashion icon with a mullet…

I’ve been a corporate trainer and coach for over three decades. My clothing choices improved and I was an early adopter of laptops. I’ve logged many frequent flyer miles getting to where my learners were. I started to burn out in the mid-90’s though I still loved my work. The travel was extreme. It wasn’t great for the clients either.

Learner follow-up was limited to one-off courses and little follow-up. Something had to change, so I became an advocate and early adopter of online learning. All of us then were learning as we went.
Soon I was training trainers at international online learning conferences, still logging frequent flyer miles but less often.

Today I’m an online educator, never far from my MacPro. I teach professionals already established who are improving themselves and their careers. I also teach one-on-one through mentoring and coaching – mostly by telephone. I am a Master Teacher in two graduate programs for the University of Denver, and co-founding faculty at Virtual Workplace University, an online learning destination for today’s professional.

I’m a learner, too. I seek out ways to engage with my peers, tapping wisdom and offering some. I live with a learning mindset. My profession helps me be passionate all the time, without effort and usually without fail.

I’m no longer burned out. When I log frequent flyer miles now, it’s a treat to physically be with fellow learners.

I lucked into a career in 4th grade, thanks to Steve, my first teaching assignment. How I teach and learn has changed, but my passion as a teacher hasn’t.

What we do matters.

Join Trina as she presents at EdVET 2017 on April 28th. Click here for more information.

Is email wasting your time?

This blog has been re-published with the permission of Trina Hoefling and The Smart Workplace.

Trina Hoefling is a longstanding organisation and team development expert and master teacher at the University of Denver graduate school. For over 30 years Trina has been helping organizations and people establish virtual presence, bridge virtual distance and build strong relationships that span time and space. Scheduled to visit Melbourne in April 2017 (details below), today Trina shares her thoughts about the inefficiency of email.

Learn and use the communication technology that best fits your work and relationships!

I’ve said for 20 years that email isn’t the best work vehicle for many reasons. Information obesity is the biggest deterrent, but loss of context also contributes to email ineffectiveness. Information is sent, received, and attended to in fragments, scattered amongst dozens of other types of messages, if not hundreds. Email forces us to be redundant in our communication, never sure everyone has read what’s been sent previously. Or we leave out or don’t remember vital information because it came through in an earlier email. That previous message is out of sight – and so – out of mind, especially if the subject line becomes irrelevant to where the conversation went. If email is being used as a project management and team communication tool on your team (be honest, most of us do it), you are spending too much time gathering information from here and there or losing critical information. Project management and team collaboration solutions solve the context and recorded history problems. Effective tool users have built-in organization tools to stay on top of tasks while facilitating communication among team members.

If email is being used as a project management and team communication tool on your team, you’re most likely losing critical information.

Now that Facebook and LinkedIn (and many others) are standard parts of our lives, most people understand the interface basics and tenets of how to communicate through a collaborative platform. With business growing more social in nature as more people realize that much real work gets done through conversation, we’re truly crossing the digital divide of team relationship management. Companies use cloud-based social media solutions, finally embracing efficiencies that early adopters have benefited from for years, thanks to the ubiquity of mobility.

Now people get it. Work behavior has changed. For example, 47% of all email is now being opened on a mobile device and often inside a social platform such as LinkedIn or Facebook. As a result, mobile collaboration apps can easily become the logical default for team collaboration. The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend has reached critical mass. (It may be giving Chief Technology Officers and Information Technology departments headaches over security concerns, but it is here to stay.)
As early as 2010, Gartner was predicting that 20% of business users would choose social networking solutions over email as the main channel for communication and collaboration by now. We have reached critical mass.  That’s not to say email is dead. It is still powerful as a direct communication tool, but it can stop being a productivity killer. Leverage the collaborative platforms and let email become, again, one – but only one – great communication tool in your team tool box.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the The Smart Workplace. Hear from frequent contributors who are experts as well as from me. We’ll be publishing weekly posts that will inspire you while providing tips, hacks, resources, and free tools to help you master the virtual work world.

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Trina Hoefling on Friday 28 April 2017 in Melbourne.

This enlightening speaker will tackle topics such as:

  • Teaching tomorrow’s workforce today
  • An engagement-driven rapid course design approach
  • Teacher as online facilitator – role model, stringent evaluator AND slacker
  • Aligning course learning outcomes to student learning goals
  • Where and when to do what – blended learning and flipped classrooms
  • The impact of informal and formal assignments

Please express your interest in attending via this link: Express interest