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#WFH: What Role Are You Playing?

Touchpoint leadership creates relationships that support the whole person and meet the business’s objectives. This is customarily done through roles. In relationships, people play roles. This is how they connect. For example, in a marriage someone is a “husband” and someone is a “wife.” In a friendship, both parties are “friends.” In relationships, these roles often come with preconceived meaning. Developing meaning that works for both sides is one of the big challenges to leading in the virtual world. One of the biggest obstacles of leading a virtual workforce successfully is a traditional management mindset. Notice that roles are nouns. In the virtual work environment, we are interested in verbs. Performance and results are achieved with verbs.

Creating touchpoints in the virtual work environment is not always easy or automatic. The economics of virtual work, however, makes it an undertaking that can bring very positive bottom line results for the business and the individual. The first step is to get honest, and take stock of where you are and where you want to be. Leaders are of-ten in denial about fear, loss of control, the “I can’t see them I can’t manage them” mentality. What more commonly surfaces is a distorted rational that claims “We need to be together to bond, collabo-rate, and create,” which is just an excuse for “I don’t trust them. If I am not watching them, they are not working, and I don’t know how to control that or motivate these people!”

Touchpoints come in many different sizes and shapes. There are three general categories or types of touchpoints required to lead, inspire and measure virtual workplace performance: conceptual, transactional, and actual. Each of these general categories can be broken down into other categories. What is important is not the labels. What is critical is that the organization realizes that it touches the virtual worker in many ways, some invisible, some prescribed and some real.

Conceptual touchpoints include the organizational culture, shared perceptions, and views. Conceptual touchpoints can include many different channels from branding to social media to any number of internal and external influences. Conceptual touchpoints include the semantics of the organization and the intangible influences that can affect human behaviors. This includes how the organization knows itself, expresses itself and identifies the fundamental things that make it what it is. It can include the little things some individuals deal with day to day. There are internal and external conceptual touchpoints. Conceptual touchpoints are invisible and intangible but still influence the performance of the individual. Often, we attribute these to the orga-nizational culture and the economic climate.

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