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Photo by Nelly Antoniadou on Unsplash

Facebook announced recently it is hiring for a new role: Director of Remote Work. Let that sink in. It’s a new position for the 52,000-person company which will focus on, well, you might have guessed it from the title: ensuring Facebook’s strategic pivot to Work From Home (WFH) is successful and sustainable.

While WFH (or the more au courant “Remote-First”) is not entirely a new thing, Facebook and many other high-tech firms have embraced it in a systemic, critical-mass approach as a result of the virus. They are being pandemically purposeful.

There are a host of variables and potential roadblocks for successfully implementing a large scale WFH strategy and it looks like this role is designed to help lubricate the machinery for that transition. Among the dynamics in play for a broad-based WFH…


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Wearing a Mask is Like Green Eggs and Ham.

By: Mike Hoban

(Both an apology and an acknowledgement to the wonderful Dr. Seuss)

Pam: I am Pam. Pam-I-am.

This isn’t about green eggs and ham;

Wearing masks is on my mind

But Joe right there, he just declined.

Joe: That Pam-I-am! That Pam-I-am!

I do not like that Pam-I am!

I don’t like masks, I have my rights

And Pam has got me in her sights.

Pam: Would you please just wear this mask?

It might save lives, that’s all I ask.


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Image from University of Pittsburgh

[Portions of this piece first published in my Fast Company article of January 2013.]

Yes, Zoom, the videoconferencing platform, has arrived. It is a “thing.” It has millions of users and an eye-popping share price. Many of us have the app on our phones, our tablets, our laptops and Zoom seems to be everywhere in the business and popular press.

All important stuff. But what really makes it a touchstone brand in 2020 is something else: We’ve started to make it a verb. As in, “Let’s Zoom on Tuesday morning.”

FedEx. Uber. PDF. Facetime. Skype. Tweet. Waze. And the mother of them all, Google. These are all brands or products that we use not only as nouns but also as verbs. Call it the verbification of product names and mostly it’s a very good thing indeed. It denotes a casual intimacy, a personal connection between a consumer and the product or the brand. …


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Image from openculture.com

There it was on the first page of Eric Larson’s new book The Splendid and the Vile about Churchill and the dark days of 1940–41: “Vonnegutian violence.” As in Kurt Vonnegut. He was a famous writer (Slaughterhouse Five; Cat’s Cradle) in the 1960s and I’ve read his books but I had never seen his name used as an adjective.

I recently published a piece on the “verbification” of well-known brands like Google Click here to read and it’s also the case that turning names into adjectives is an accepted practice for individuals who are known for some personal quality or a body of work or accomplishment. …


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Photo by ChoiceLocal on Unsplash

(It might depend on whether your job involves moving carbon or moving electrons…)

Perhaps the Work From Home (WFH) phenomenon burgeoned by the pandemic might not just be a temporary workaround until things get back to “normal.” Emerging reports from some business executives suggest that many companies have been pleasantly surprised by the business results they are getting from their home-bound staff and many of those employees are also giving a “thumbs-up” to this new working arrangement.

“We’ve been thrilled by our teams’ abilities to rapidly migrate to using technology from home,” one bank executive said in a July 17 CNBC article.


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Photo by nappy from Pexels

They can both be valuable but they are different…

Coaching almost always involves some sort of feedback but the reverse is not true — most feedback does not involve coaching.

Huh?

Precision in language is important and I’ve seen and heard a lot of imprecision over the years about those two terms “coaching” and “feedback.” Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. Sometimes they are simply used incorrectly.

Feedback only provides information and it’s one-way

Here’s the difference. Feedback is providing information to someone about some aspect of their performance. It can be at the task level or broader and can call out perceived good performance or poor performance. It is brief one-way communication although it can evolve into a conversation, even if that conversation is simply a short response like “Thanks!” …


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Image by Fit Small Business

Key elements of the work world and of the world itself have been thrown into the blender. The COVID crisis. Work at home and the slow transition to coming back. Digital meetings. Fractured supply chains. The worldwide economic downturn. The widespread protests against racism. So much volatility, uncertainty.

In light of these challenges, do your organization’s values still provide adequate guidance and direction for how everyone — leaders and non-leaders alike — should conduct themselves in the workplace to create and sustain a healthy and high-performance culture?

One more time — Why are values important?

Values. A set of beliefs or principles that help organizations define what they stand for and which are intended to provide guidance for the daily actions of its members. An articulated credo about what is important. Typical values might include teamwork. Customer orientation. Collaboration. Respect. Excellence. We all have a personal set of values either implicit or explicit. …


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Photo by Kenaz Nepomuceno on Pexels

Leaders who are purposefully strategic not only listen differently, but they also see differently.

At first that might seem to be a metaphorical stretch, but it’s a practical distinction which describes leaders who transition from an operational to a strategic mindset and skill set.

Consider even the everyday language we use when we think about or talk about effective leaders who we consider to be “strategic.” They look for patterns and relationships. They see threats and opportunities. They focus on priorities. They see the big picture. And of course, they have some degree of a vision, a desired future state.


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Photo — Blue Compass Interactive

Everyone has a “boss” and there are millions of them out there in the work world even though almost none have the word “boss” in their title. A couple of interesting factoids about bosses and Boss’s Day:

  • You have a woman named Barbara Horoski — not Hallmark — to thank for the October 16 observance. In 1958, Ms. Horoski, working for her father as a secretary for State Farm Insurance, registered the name with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of leaders/supervisors everywhere. Why October 16? It was her father’s birthday.
  • Hallmark started offering Boss Day cards only in 1979. …


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Image by Pixabay

Confession time.

I confess to have been unaware — until the past two weeks of reading a new bestselling book — of the toxicity which is widespread in a certain workplace with which we are all familiar: restaurant kitchens, especially those in high-end food establishments.

Bullying. Threats. Extreme hazing. Harrassment. Humilation. Misogyny. Screaming and degrading name calling designed to destroy self-esteem.

It’s downright head shaking and I just never knew about it, though I consider myself something of a foodie.

We’ve made so many strides in the past 30+ years to make workplaces more engaging, more egalitarian, more “humane.” Less toxic, less “my way or the highway,” less tolerance of boss-as-asshole. But after reading the 2020 bestselling book Dirt by Bill Buford I realize we have a long way to go in some workplaces. The good news is that prior to the pandemic wreaking havoc on the restaurant industry it had apparently begun to be addressed. …

About

Mike Hoban

Mike Hoban is a West Michigan-based leadership coach and advisor who also writes about business topics.

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