Master the tips and tricks of leadership

In today’s tech-connected workplace you might hardly ever see members of your team in person. Teammates might be in different towns, states or countries.

Alissa Carpenter has seen the changes. She is a millennial workforce expert and consultant and speaker. A Forbes contributor, Carpenter has been featured as a millennial coach and team-building expert.

She talked with Chelsea Krost, a leading millennial influencer and LinkedIn-rated Top 20 millennial marketing and brand strategist, about leadership tips and tricks.

“Work is no longer a physical location,” Carpenter said. “People are working all over on the same project. We need to use technology to create community and elicit a culture of teamwork and collaboration.

“These spaces need facetime capabilities,” she said. “They provide opportunities for open office hours with your supervisor and team. Use the spaces to hold meetings and as break-out rooms. Here you can have informal ‘happy hours’ or track progress on a project or idea.”

All these solutions rely on technology done right.

“There are so many remote teams,” Carpenter said. “With proper use of tech, we can bring people together. I’m a huge fan of enabling video chats for more face time.”

Krost cited tech benefits and tools:

  • Connect remotely, thanks to Skype and Zoom.
  • Collaborate on documents simultaneously due to systems like Google Drive. Goodbye, unnecessary back-and-forth emails.
  • Ask and receive questions and feedback quickly due to social media.

Those communication tools enhance working together.

“Collaboration and teamwork start with trust,” Carpenter said. “Trust in your employees, teams, managers and technology. No matter what position you’re in within the organization, you have the power to collaborate and trust in your team.

“It can be something as simple as asking someone from another team for feedback, bringing a new member to your team from another department or creating project-based teams,” she said. “Create a culture where people value working across functional areas and set an example.”

Ask about preferences

Don’t assume you know which communication means works best. Check with your workers.

“Ask how people like to be communicated with so you’re on the same page,” Carpenter said. “With technology we can have face-to-face communication virtually.

“Start small and practice often,” she said. “Have open communication with your supervisor. Schedule one-on-one time.”

Krost explained how teamwork can address issues.

“Have a problem that needs to be solved? Gather employees together to share ideas on how to address the challenges,” she said. “Use collaboration as the solution.”

There are potential generation gaps in the workplace with employees spanning a wide range of ages. Yet, all of them are people with traditional needs for fulfillment. Start with the desire to treat everyone well.

“We have five generations in the workplace,” Carpenter said. “That can be difficult, but it’s important to ask questions and get to know people as individuals. Ask how they like to be communicated with, how they like to seek praise and what they need from you as a manager.

“At the end of the day, people are people,” she said. “Take the time to get to know who you are working with both in and outside your functional group. I’m a huge fan of identifying strengths to create teams and seeing what areas might be missing.”

Mention mentors

This is where mentors enter the picture.

“Bridge the gap by implementing a reverse mentorship program,” Krost said. “Older generations can teach the younger employees new strategies. Younger generations — like millennials — can show the older employees how to complete tasks in a more efficient tech-savvy way.”

Carpenter and Krost have their favorite team-building exercises.

“I love the Marshmallow Challenge and break-out rooms,” Carpenter said. “Both of these get people talking and take you a little out of your comfort zone.

“Use the CliftonStrengths assessment to identify people’s talents and strengths,” she said. “Then have real conversations about potential gaps on the team and where they excel.”

Plan your escape

Krost prefers actual breakouts.

“A fun team-building exercise that has become quite popular lately are escape rooms,” she said. “I love the collaboration involved.”

Keep employees engaged in the workplace by staying in touch with them and showing they are a vital part of the team. They will know their role and how they contribute to everyone’s success.

“Have open conversations on what they are looking for in a supervisor, in their professional development and in a work environment,” Carpenter said. “When we stop making assumptions and ask hard hitting questions, we can learn what our employees want and make real change.”

Krost listed her top ways to keep employees engaged in the workplace:

If you have a boss or manager unwilling to collaborate or change, update your resume. You don’t have a lifetime commitment to be miserable.

“Change can be hard for a lot of people,” Carpenter said. “Sometimes they feel threatened that their job is on the line if you ask them to share information.

“Many companies are shifting to a compensation culture where you are rewarded for working with others,” she said. “This can help with some of these issues.”

Don’t try to do everything at once.

“Start small,” Carpenter said. “Don’t expect people to change the way they have always worked overnight. Ask for information you and your team need to successfully complete a project. Then show them the positive results, thanks to their collaboration.

“If your boss or manager can see the quantitative benefit to their actions and the success of the team, they will be more likely to collaborate and share information,” she said. “People really are the company’s biggest asset. It’s something I always tell my clients.”

Tap ambassadors

Great leaders can empower employees to become brand ambassadors and influencers.

A good workplace will inspire employees to talk about it along with your brand and services. Treat them well, and they will do the same for you.

“This is all starts with having a positive experience,” Carpenter said. “When employees love what they do, where they do it and the people they work with, they are your biggest advocate.

“Your engaged employees will help recruit for you, sell your products or services and take your company to the next level,” she said. “They are the heart and soul of the organization.”

Take advantage of employees’ social inclinations.

“Start with asking your employees to post on their personal social accounts and share their positive experiences with their network,” Carpenter said.

Krost said becoming a brand ambassador should be rewarding.

“Allow employees to get involved in content creation,” she said. “Let them be creative and share their voice.

“Make it a fun experience,” Krost said. “Implement a campaign or content challenge with a grand prize that creates excitement and encourages participation.”

For leadership and teamwork inspiration, Carpenter has her favorite quotes:

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” — Henry Ford

“When you need to innovate, you need collaboration.” — Marissa Mayer

About The Author

Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services and worked in public affairs for the Air Force and federal government. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.