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Quick Tips: How to Manage Expectations and Reduce Conflict When Working from Home

by Michael Premo, Senior Content Manager

During this unprecedented time, millions of Americans have been ordered to work from home. Sure, we’ve all had to work from home for a day or two, but not weeks on end. Plus, the kiddos were always in school, so there were far fewer distractions. All of it just adds to the general anxiety and stress of the situation.

This is all so new that you’re probably finding shortcuts and life hacks to get through your day—doing what works with limited resources and a ton of restrictions. You want to be able to perform at your best, but there seem to be obstacles everywhere.

Here are some tips for managing employee expectations, as well as your own. We’ve also included some tips to reduce conflict because you’re not able to sit down with people and have those face-to-face conversations that matter.

 

Expectations

Talk with your supervisor and identify your priorities. What will standing meetings be like? What are their expectations for responses to email, DM, or phone calls? You’ll also need to know the best way to coordinate efforts and track progress. These are only a portion of your expectations.

 

Start with Your Technology

Does your home computer support video conferencing? You may have a laptop from work, but there may come a time when it’s not working correctly, and IT is nowhere to be found. You’ll need to update your home computer to compensate for this. Make sure that video conferencing works, you can share screens, and that you have the latest updates installed.

Do you need an extra screen? Two screens are better than one and improve your productivity. How about your printer? Bandwidth on WiFi? Your kids will probably be online, too. You should check to see if that has any effect on your connections. Together, these are really important to manage your ability to perform and meet your expectations.

 

Children at Home

As a parent, you are facing one of the biggest challenges in your life. For online schooling to be successful, you’ll need to be there for them while they navigate online classes and act as a tutor. This requires you to be as flexible with work as possible. Be realistic with your expectations and communicate your situation with managers. They’ll understand.

There is no striking a balance unless you have a plan in place for their education and entertainment. Their teachers will have a great plan in place. Follow it as carefully as possible and reach out to them for teaching advice when necessary. Books and puzzles are great and limit screen time when it’s absolutely necessary. Video chats and most gaming consoles allow kids to interact while playing together. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than complete isolation.

 

Your Home

A workspace is essential. If you don’t have a home office, make one. Put up boundaries to limit traffic and disruptions. Homemade signs will help.

More time at home means more cooking and cleaning. Get everyone involved. Being a family is a team effort. This is hard to do with young children, but they are capable of doing small tasks. Just ask their teachers. Kids are expected to clean up after themselves at school, wipe down surfaces, even sweep. It won’t be perfect, so try to relax your expectations.

 

Reducing Conflict

Successfully managing conflict is even more difficult if you’re now required to manage teams remotely. With the unique nature of our current situation, conflict is bound to happen at some point. As with any workplace conflict, disagreements and pettiness need to be managed carefully.

Context, nuance, body language, facial expressions, and anything else we use to take cues in face-to-face communication are missing when using text, email, or other forms of electronic communications. Most people hate confrontation. But, there are some telling signs when they get frustrated or feel like they are being treated unfairly.

You’ll see it in a terse email or abrupt conversation over the phone. Also, look for back-and-forth conversations that escalate. You’ll see this, especially with the “blame game.” People sometimes feel less inhibited in what they say when online, so they’re more apt to express harsh opinions that attack personalities. It’s one thing to voice personal frustrations, and another to attack others. If these things arise, you’ll need to stop them immediately.

 

Communication

When you see it, get involved right away. You need to deescalate all conflicts. Even if you’re not their boss, you need to step in and be a neutral party, a mediator to stem any damage the conflict may cause.

If you are in a position to intercede, then take it into a private space where you can acknowledge that there is a problem.  You’ll need to bring them together to define the problem, and each party has a chance to talk about the problem. Your job will be to find commonalities that each side agrees upon, then lay out follow-up actions to bridge their disagreement.

  • Focus on the problem, not the people.
  • Restate each position and offer a solution to their complaint.
  • Keep communicating until a resolution is achieved.

Always be proactive when conflict arises. This will keep it from getting out of control. You’ll find that these issues become opportunities when appropriately harnessed.

Successfully working from home requires a lot of patience, empathy and communication. If you have any advice or stories to share, we’d love to hear from you during this difficult time. We’re in this together, and our community will become stronger because of it.

Ginger Reichl Completes Jim Moran Institute for Entrepreneurship Small Business Executive Program

 

Pinstripe president, Ginger Reichl, completed the Jim Moran Institute for Entrepreneurship’s Small Business Executive Program on December 5.

Provided by the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University, the program was created to be a world-class learning experience that accommodates the busy schedule of small business owners. The Small Business Executive Program (SBEP) participants emerge stronger leaders ready to capitalize on business opportunities, implement best practice management, and turn challenges into a strategic advantage.

“Pinstripe has been a full-time effort for nearly 14 years, and while I am fortunate to have other entrepreneur friends, it has been helpful to work through real-world issues in the safe space of JMI with other mature businesses. The Business Model Canvas and other tools are going to help us set the course for the next several years of the agency,” said Reichl.

“Through the visionary leadership and generous gift of Jim Moran, we are able to assemble an outstanding group of speakers and to facilitate valuable discussions with other local entrepreneurs,” said Shane Smith, PhD, Director of Central Florida Operations for The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship. “We know that the heritage and tradition of the Institute and The Florida State University inspires our participants to work more ‘on’ their businesses instead of ‘in’ them.”

Applications for the Tampa Bay Spring cohort are now open.

Pinstripe Team: Early Influences

In my experience, successful entrepreneurs and business leaders had someone or something that influenced them. Mentors are often pointed to as being the most common influencers, while others have had amazing experiences with a company that promoted growth and autonomy.

The Pinstripe team has decades of experience, and, early in their careers, there was something that guided each one through the challenges of everyday life. So, I wanted my team to share what or who were influences early in their careers.

What Was a Major Influence In Your Career?


Nikki
:

When I was working as an instructional designer at Suncoast Hospice, I was surrounded by incredibly supportive women who helped me to recognize my potential and value my own skill set.I began to see myself through their eyes: as a computer whiz, a creative guru, a natural leader, and even a kind-hearted, intuitive listener who was sensitive to others’ needs.Before I met these women, I didn’t realize how valuable my intelligence, creativity and soft skills were, and how much of each I possessed. Ever since then, I’ve made sure to be more self-aware and appreciate not just what others around me have to offer, but honor the gifts that I bring to the table as well.

Evie Larson - art director
Evie
:

Early in my career I worked with a young lady named Marlenys Rojas, who taught me so many valuable lessons. From Marlenys I learned the importance of connectedness and collaboration with other creatives; to vibe off other designers’ energy during brainstorming sessions; to be more inquisitive, rigorous and experimental with each project I tackled. She instilled in me a desire to be enthusiastic and present to the process of graphic design; to love the craft; to obsess over my craft; to make it personal; to give a shit.

Heather Christman - art director
Heather
:
My first influence and appreciation for art comes from my Dad who is a talented and accomplished fine artist. I don’t recall having a specific mentor during my career but did enjoy learning from many different people, all of whom contributed to my career as a graphic designer.  As for many, my most significant lessons were learned at my first job in the industry which was at a small family owned advertising agency. They included me in every facet of the business, not just in my area of design. I learned the ropes in account and project management, art direction, photo shoots, and vendor relationships. Those experiences helped me later in various career moves as I was able to adapt more easily in various work environments throughout my career.


Michael
:
My first advertising gig was with an established boutique firm in Central Minnesota. I was the assistant to one of two account executives, Ronn Paulson.I learned from his Norwegian honest and authentic demeanor; his amazing project management skills and sense of organization that had been honed during the height of print marketing; and his work-life balance, juggling two young children and a career. He taught me many of the fundamentals that became the bedrock of my career.

This article is part of a series on getting to know our team a little more. Throughout the year, we will be featuring more on this topic. Can you relate with any of our influencers? Got a mentor story to share? Let us hear about it in the comments section below!

Passion – The Road to Success

company culture of passion_news

We expect to see passion in entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers – these people are following their dreams to own their own business doing what they love most. Passion is what drives them morning, noon, and night to work hard, talk about their business often, and go out of their way to make their business successful. But what if we saw passion in employees of larger companies and even enterprise corporations?

The Brand Ambassador

We recently scheduled a series of photo shoots to begin building a media library for one of our larger clients – a Fortune 500 behemoth with locations in Tampa, throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. At each location there has been one thing that we’ve noticed – every person we’ve encountered has been incredibly helpful, knowledgeable about their company, and passionate. They not only helped us by guiding us through their processes, explaining many of the inner workings of their organization so we gain a better understanding of what images and video we need to create and informing us of shots we may have never realized we needed, but they did it with a visible pride. Their hospitality has been incredible – we expected to be greeted and then left to our own devices, but what we received from each person who assisted us was a personal tour guide and brand ambassador. We are impressed.

Passion – A Part of Company Culture

What we began to notice is that each person in this company exceeded our expectations – in essence, they were acting like business owners rather than employees by demonstrating the same passion an entrepreneur would. This is something that we have always believed in theory, but never has it been so thoroughly supported by direct empirical evidence. What it boils down to is employee empowerment. Empowering your employees instills in them the same passion for the business as the business owner, and it is a direct result of the culture that you create within your organization.

How to Instill Passion in Company Culture

There are many ways to create a culture of passion and ownership. Here are just a few:

  • Transparency. Give people visibility into the decision-making process
  • Collaboration. Provide spaces that facilitate collaboration and make sure managers are collaborative with their employees
  • Autonomy. Autonomy is an important part of ownership – make sure people have autonomy in as many aspects of their work and even their schedule as possible
  • Community. Establish a tight-knit community within your organization, bringing people together to get to know each other, make them feel at home, make sure that executives mingle often with the rest of the organization’s employees, make sure people have fun in addition to working hard
  • Training and education. Offer thorough education about the industry, organization, its history, clients, etc, and commit to updating that education frequently. Offer courses so employees have opportunities to learn more about their jobs and build upon their job skills and offer resources for further education
  • Hiring. If you keep in mind company culture during the hiring process, you will ensure to bring on employees that share a passion for your business, will thrive in your company, and take advantage of the education and training that you offer
  • Loyalty. Be loyal to your employees – they will reward you with the same

These are just a few ways to introduce people and programs that will create a culture of passion. They are easily applicable to smaller organizations, but employing them on a larger scale may prove more difficult. We know it is possible and have seen it in action, but it requires company-wide participation. It won’t be successful if everyone is not on board.

Here are a few articles that offer advice on creating a positive culture within your organization:

3 Ways I Created a Culture of Passion

8 Rules Creating Passionate Work Culture

Building a Culture of Passion and Excellence

What methods do you employ to build a company culture of ownership and passion?