For helpful information on how to respond as a leader to Coronavirus don't miss our Founder and CEO David Niu's detailed post Leading in Uncharted Waters.
TINYpulse is headquartered in Seattle, Washington at the United States epicenter for Coronavirus / COVID-19.
I have decided to support all organizations transitioning to a Work from Home (WFH) approach by giving any team a free subscription to the TINYpulse WFH Essentials to keep their people engaged, motivated, and inspired. The subscription is for 3 months at zero charge.
For any organization that chooses to continue their subscription beyond 3 months, TINYpulse will donate 10% of the annual subscription to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO on their behalf.
We implemented a remote / WFH policy starting last week and expect this will extend for weeks.
As more and more organizations start implementing a WFH approach, I also wanted to share some valuable tips.
These are the best practices that are working for us to keep our people focused and connected.
Virtualizing Daily Standing Huddle
From the inception of TINYpulse, we’ve implemented a best practice Cameron Herold first shared with me over a decade ago, which is the daily standing huddle.
We’ve taken Cameron's advice and adapted it for our needs and never looked back.
Our sales team conducts their daily standing huddle at 7:37, while our non-sales team conducts theirs at 8:48.
The following is our huddle format by person:
- Wins? What’s something you accomplished or you saw someone else achieve that should be celebrated?
- What is your #1 today and why is it important? When I get caught up refreshing the stock market losses or even what the Australian and Japanese stock index futures are at, I remind myself to refer back to my #1 and why it’s important. And if I complete my #1 then everything else should be easier and feel like running downhill.
- Did you accomplish your #1 from the day before?: This is what helps keep me accountable because if it’s truly my #1 then I should do everything in my power to achieve this.
Now that we're physically not together, I want to maintain the positive rituals we had before everyone started working from home.
So we are virtualizing these updates and posting them to Slack daily.
This enables all of us to understand what achievements are happening and what others are focused on.
It's also a great opportunity for us to check-in and support others if we have context or can help them achieve their #1 priority for the day.
Get the Pulse on How Your People are Feeling, The Right Way
Second is what I outlined above — continuous feedback from your people.
It's critical to get the temperature of how my team is feeling by asking them in a safe, non-judgmental, anonymous manner.
After the responses come in, the entire leadership team logs into TINYpulse to look for trends to address head-on.
It’s simply not practical to think everyone, especially as they work remotely, will proactively share their concerns or feedback with me.
Over the course of the pandemic we plan to continue our normal cadence of pulse questions.
Especially since research on remote workers reveals those who usually work from home enjoy the freedom and flexibility PLUS they rate their relationships with their coworkers and organizational culture HIGHER than the people who are required to do so by their job (more on this below).
Required Remote Work Scores Lower
In the current environment I believe it’s out of necessity we have to work remotely.
This means folks are falling into the second bucket with lower ratings.
Just take a look at this research.
There's a significant difference in engagement between employees who WANT to work remotely and those are required to.
Workers with Less Remote Work Experience Are The Most Unhappy
Our research shows team members required to work from home are not just less happy overall.
Lack of experience with remote work increases the risk of unhappiness even further.
The chart below highlights employees with less work from home experience against their more WFH-experienced colleagues.
Those with less WFH-experience routinely rate the lowest when it comes to happiness at work, feeling valued at work, and rating their relationship with coworkers.
Therefore it’s even more imperative we keep our pulse on the culture to avoid looming blind spots.
Folks working from home due to the COVID-19 virus are doing so out of necessity.
They aren’t seasoned WFH veterans and this is consistent with lower engagement.
Key Ingredient — Recognition
Third, one easy and powerful way to maintain and build up morale is via recognition.
We use our TINYpulse Cheers for Peers and can send kudos to each other seamlessly (see image below). Plus managers can also attach a TINYgiftcard to Amazon, Starbucks, etc.
An organization can also add their values, and highlight which values are highlighted in the Cheers, which just reinforces the company's values.
Recognition Starts at the Top
I’ve been encouraging our leadership team to recognize their own teams.
It's simple. Recognition usually begets more recognition, and the momentum is even stronger when it starts from managers.
I think this is especially important given the fact we don’t get to experience those casual collisions and conversations in the office like we usually do. Or the casual high five in the hallway.
Yet these virtual acknowledgements do work because Cheers for Peers emails are opened faster and at a much higher frequency than other types of emails that are sent.
Since it’s free and easy, in this remote work environment, doubling down on recognition is a smart bet.
How to Host Amazing 1-on-1s Virtually
Lastly, we transitioned all of our weekly 1-on-1s to video conferencing.
More importantly we did not cancel. Not a single one.
Forty-nine percent of remote employees report they would like to have contact with their supervisor at least once a day (see chart below).
The reality is they’re right about on point and 52% experience contact with their supervisor at least once per day (see chart below).
Of course, in-person 1-on-1s are much easier to conduct than virtual ones because you can see body language and sense emotions much easier in person.
To supplement and make remote 1-on-1s highly effective, we leverage our 1-on-1 pulse to facilitate amazing 1-on-1s. The following questions are pulsed to each direct report before every 1-on-1.
After they respond, the answers get emailed to the manager, so she’s setup to have success.
Asking employees how they’re feeling on a scale of 1 to 5 and what’s one word that summarizes their feeling is amazingly powerful.
You as a manager get a quick temperature check so they can meet their team member where they’re at emotionally.
Given all the changes, there can be a lot of FUD, so this is a great way to see the mood of the call before diving into details.
Then we accentuate the positive by asking them what’s one thing they’re most proud of since our last 1-on-1.
And since this coaching meeting is for the direct report, we follow up by asking where do they need support and what else they want to add to the agenda.
Finally, we end on a positive note by asking them who deserves Cheers from me.
When I send that Cheers, I always cite who recommended it to create a triple halo effect. One halo for the person who receives a Cheers from the CEO. One halo for their manager, who acknowledged and passed great work onto me. And one halo for me because I cared about recognizing them.
This format and tempo has become an invaluable tool before the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
The technique is even more indispensable with all the heightened emotions and changes that are occurring in our communities.
Structure truly sets you free as your 1-on-1s move from updates to purposeful, from reluctant to ready, and from scattered to structured.
When I started TINYpulse in 2012, I had a very simple mission which was to "make employees happier."
I believe when that magic occurs the person can be a better friend, spouse, parent, and person.
Right from the beginning I decided we'd donate 1% of our time to the local community we're privileged to be a part of (see picture below of a quarterly volunteer day when we shut down the office), 1% of our profits to a non-profit, and 1% of our product to non-profits.
Coronavirus and COVID-19 have been a massive disruption to lives, the uncertainty, and lower happiness associated with teams working from home.
This is why we're committed to donating TINYpulse WFH Essentials with pulsing, Cheers for Peers, and Coach 1-on-1 to any organization if they've been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus - no questions asked.
Any leader who is interested can get an account started at TINYpulse.com. TINYpulse WFH Essentials include:
1. Engage. Get a pulse on how your team is feeling in a safe, anonymous manner, so you can avoid blind spots.
2. Cheers for Peers. Continue building bridges and keep morale high with recognition.
3. Coach. Become a better remote coach with structured 1-on-1’s. Great opportunity to build and improve this healthy habit and be structured versus scattered.
4. COVID-19 Baseline Starter Assessment. Start with COVID-19 specific questions that quickly determine how employees feel about the situation. We've done the research and source the best questions on this so you don't have to.
5. Basic Support. Due to demand TINYpulse will only be able to provide group / 1-to-many onboarding versus paid custom / 1-to-1 onboarding support.
6. Basic Subscription. Integrations will not be provided in this Basic Subscription.
After the three month free period, if you continue your subscription, TINYpulse will donate 10% of the annual subscription to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO on your behalf.
For details and to sign up, please below.
I’ll continue our daily standup huddles, pulsing the team, building connections with frequent recognition, and hosting structured 1-on-1’s.
I believe these WFH Essentials have made me a more empathic, more accountable, and more effective leader since it builds healthy habits and insights.
If we can grit through this challenging period together, I’m confident we can rebound even stronger with these healthy habits as a foundation moving forward. Control what you can control given the situation, and this is our attempt to make a positive TINYdent.
Please take ample precautions and remain safe while looking after others.
To happier employees,