When it comes to helping your remote teams thrive, the best thing leaders can do is…garden. Check out this conversation with Brad Smith from ADVISA and Lindsay Boccardo, a Career Strategist from our Unvalley 2020 Conference last December.

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That is advice from Lindsay Boccardo, a millennial career strategist who helps young talent and the organizations that employ them build connections.

“Gardens need continual tending,” Lindsay said during our December Unvalley conference. “When we are all in the same office, we look after our coworkers’ wellbeing in person, and we notice when someone isn’t doing well. Now with the shift to remote, we need to work harder to cultivate those daily attention moments.”

Lindsey advises leaders not to skip one-on-one meetings with employees when they’re working remotely. She recommends doing them more often, to keep emotional connections strong.

“Confidence is the currency of productivity,” adds Brad Smith, Leadership Consultant at ADVISA. “Our job as leaders is to knock down roadblocks – when you do that, negativity fades into the background. Confidence and productivity go way up.”

Get more tips on leading in a post-pandemic world in the full panel session, “How to Lead and Level Up Remote Teams.” 

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What tips do you have for leading a team with early career individuals with their first job out of college? Those sorts of things?


And I think, you know, there’s something when we look at early career individuals, we’re also recognizing that especially Gen Z, you’re really talking about early career, anybody who’s 24 and under, they are the least likely generation to have a job before they came to you. So they’re not the generation that has the high school job. They’re the generation that typically is more involved in extracurriculars and is doing other things. And so this is part of, you know, recognizing that when we bring in we onboard, younger individuals, that they’re going to need help with professional skills. And you can actually go to my LinkedIn, I’ve got like a Gen Z checklist of things that you want to focus on when you’re onboarding, particularly when it’s remote. 


But you’ll have to make things that if you’ve been in the professional world, for a decade, there’s some things that seem really obvious, like, don’t be on your phone, when you’re talking to somebody that they may not see as rude or disrespectful. And so I see a lot of times, we’re frustrated and irritated because they’re doing behaviors that we interpret as disrespectful, or, you know, lacking confidence, a million different things. And they’re really just living the way that they’ve been living in college. And there’s no difference for them. So getting very explicit about what you expect to them and their behaviors, even especially, hey, when we’re on zoom meetings, we expect you to be in an environment that’s quiet, that’s well lit, we expect you to be on video and not answering emails, you’ll have to be that explicit. That’s one area. So we talk about professional skills and professional communication, you’ll have to train them how to do that. I also look at again, going back to self awareness, if you’re under 25, your frontal lobe and your executive functioning is still coming online, and so you’re going to not be As self aware, as somebody who’s been around for 40 years, so you’ve got that self awareness piece again, which I always come back to. 


But then you also have this training around self advocacy. No one, when all’s we have are these little screens and these little videos of each other, we really don’t know how we’re doing, we could all get off this call and have a million things happen. And the rest of our team has no idea. And so self advocacy is a developmental skill that you learn in adulthood. And instead of, you know, you predict as a parent that your six year old needs a snack, well, when you’re 23, nobody’s predicting your needs anymore. And that’s kind of shocking. So self advocates, self advocacy is saying, I know we’re working remote, here’s some things that I need, I’m struggling in these areas, we have to train people to speak up so that we can help them. And that is a new skill developmentally for most young employees. What do you think, Brad?

I really would agree with much of what you said there. And clearly, it is your area of expertise.


But I mean, just to tag on to that. I think something else that comes to mind, as it relates to self awareness, again, as leaders is, when we’re bringing on some of these folks that might not have some of the skills and abilities that seem obvious to us, like you’re mentioning Lindsey, like, as the leader, we need to self manage, to not assume, right to not like think we know what’s going on in their head or in their world and try to solve the problem, but rather cycle back and just get into their world a little bit, ask them questions, understand where they’re coming from. So that we have common ground. And once we’ve found the common ground, this is where leadership happens is when we get on that common ground together. And we say, here’s where we’re going. Because just, you know, powering down from on high at this, you know, newbie who’s coming to your organization is like, that’s not development, and it’s not leadership, for sure. And so, but, you know, I think when you talk about some of the generational gaps, ones that you mentioned that the phone face or whatever, like, especially as those generational divides start to happen, it can become really easy to make assumptions about like that, that youngsters, you know, this, that or the other. And it’s like, That’s right, really like, is that really what’s going on? Do you know that? For sure. Because if you stop and ask a couple questions, and then listen, well, you might find it something very different.


You know, had situations anecdotal situations, in my, in my life where I’ve a little hack that I’ve learned is I’ve befriended somebody in that gender, that generation, right in that age group. And I’ve had them to explain to me like, is this something that’s just right, you know, you all is in your, you know, your cultural mindset, or they just been a jerk to me. Right. And so they’ve kind of been able to act as somewhat of a translator. I know, I’m going off on a tangent a little bit there. But that’s helped me out in my career. Right, so I, we have more questions coming in. One thing I wanted to ask, though, in this time of pandemic, and working remotely, is there any, are there any tips to the for those leaders out there that are listening that can help motivate their teams on a daily basis when working remotely? Is that something that either of you have been working on our experience lately?


You want to kick us off red?


Yeah, yeah. So a phrase we use all the time and advisor is confidence is the currency of productivity. And it’s really true. I mean, so much, I think, to go off on a little tangent here for a second, I think I love that we’re using the remote work thing as a, as a platform to talk about some of this. But the more I think about remote work, I’m like, or leading up from a remote face, it’s like, well, this is leading like it’s leading, regardless, is most of these principles apply across the board. But so to come back to like, confidence is the currency of productivity is meaning, you know, so much of what it is to motivate our people is to unlock the worst for them. Right? It’s not that I give them some great speech and like, amp them up, and they go and knock down a wall, right? It’s rather like I figure out how to simply remove a couple roadblocks for them, so they can run faster. And what we know is that most of the time, that’s a confidence thing. And so we talked a little bit earlier about data driven tools. Again, for us it’s predictive index. Within that what we know is that we’re getting a measure of people’s needs and drives and when people’s needs are met, the confidence goes up, and confidence goes up, productivity goes up, results go up, motivation goes up. And a lot of the negative things that we’d rather not be a part of our culture simply fade into the background. So it’s I think it’s really about that confidence piece for me is the first thing that comes to my mind.


Yeah, I think it’s, it’s really interesting, because when I think of humans and productivity, I think about the fact that humans are more like a garden, than they are like a computer. If you pardon, what’s that?

I said, good analogy.


Yeah, if you want to have a garden, which I suck at, you have to have daily attention, you have to have carry if the water it makes sure not to overwater it, pick the weeds off, it is a daily grooming activity where computer you go broke program, put this extra chip in, I can’t believe I’m saying this to a bunch of tech people, you’re probably like, that’s not how that works. But you know, you have a computer that’s much, much different than how a garden works. And we don’t put programs in ourselves to just run, we are not objects, we’re living beings that are like nature, and we need each other. And we need connection to ourselves, we need connection to each other, we need the sunlight, we need our mission, to be able to do our work well. And I think when we were all in the same office, you know, we would kind of tend each other’s Gardens by proxy, I was just talking to architects this morning about this that, you know, you’d run over on what are you working on, and then you’d happen to learn something about what your partner is doing. 


And in architecture, you learn a new little trick or hack or a new understanding, we don’t have that anymore. So part of this is that we’re having to rebuild in those little grooming moments, those little daily attention moments. And so I talk a lot about you know, tech is a wonderful tool. Can you imagine if we had to go through this without tech, like the, you know, like the flu, the Spanish flu, that’d be insane. So at least we have this. And we still have to insert some more garden activities to make it work. So when I think about this, I think about becoming a better storyteller. 


I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to become a better storyteller this year to connect with people’s hearts and minds, not just holding them accountable, but really infusing emotion into the work we do. I think about consciously checking in with stress. You know, there was a time when you would see all bills here, Bill is not a good spot. I don’t think Bill brush the back of his head, he just got a bed. Okay, let’s talk to him and see how he’s doing. Well, we don’t know any of that right now. So checking in with stress and being very direct about emotional well being I think helps a ton. We talk when I look at other people like Claude silver, the chief heart Officer of VaynerMedia, she would say do one on one check ins do not give up on that and maybe do it even more than usual so that you keep that emotional connection. I think all those pieces, we just have to be more conscious and things that used to just passively happen in the office, we now have to insert as leaders and think of people like gardens that need continual tending.

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