How to Create High Functioning Remote Teams that Work with Ute Franzen-Waschke

cover art of CBaS episode on How to Create High Functioning Remote Teams that Work with Ute Franzen Waschke

In this episode, guest Ute Franzen-Waschke and I discuss some of the challenges of maintaining relationships within teams in remote work environments with some suggestions of strategies that can be applied by teams and team leads to support good relationships at work. She also shared her favorite app for use with remote teams. Listen to learn more about the app and try it out.

Ute is passionate about developing people for the international workplace. Throughout her extensive career, she has worked with her clients on co-creating environments that allow individuals, teams, and businesses to thrive, be the focus on communication, relationship, or corporate cultures. Ute is doing research on how coaching can support wellbeing and engagement in contemporary corporate work environments with the University of Chester in the UK.

As an active conference speaker and member of the Forbes Coach Council, Ute has published numerous articles on change initiatives and corporate culture. These articles are informed by her broad experience as a multinational executive coach and a trainer across diverse industries, encompassing change management projects, customer relationship management, and leading multicultural teams.

Ute is the author of the book, How to Create a Successful Remote Work Culture and co-author of the book Changing Conversations for a Changing World. You can find her on LinkedIn. You can find this link and all other links from the podcast in the show notes.

We recorded this episode on Jan 24, 2021.

How can a leader support everyone on the team to be at their best by not just looking at do they have all of the resources that they need, all of the tools, et cetera, but also, do they have a work environment where they can flourish?

Ute Franzen-Waschke

Your Challenge Invitation

Start with yourself. Ask yourself how are you in your important relationships. In each case, do you feel safe and comfortable, and why is that? What can you do more to make it even safer and more comfortable? Or do you have the feeling that you need to protect yourself, be on guard, and be cautious? In that case, what could you do to reduce the level of protection needed?

You may want to have a conversation with the person about your emotions, how you feel about your relationship with them.

We have so many relationships in the workplace and we cannot be on good terms with everyone, but being intentional and conscious about which relationships are the good ones and which ones are the challenging ones will be a good starting point.

So again, start with the I. Think about how you see your relationships. If you don’t know how you are showing up in a relationship, it’s very difficult to guess what the other person is experiencing.

Connect with Ute on Linkedin and learn more about her coaching on her Discover Your Choices website.

You can connect with Damianne on the Changes BIG and small website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. You’re also invited to join the Changes BIG and small Facebook community.

Similar Episodes

Timeline of the Chat

[02:06] Ute’s Experience of Remote Work
[03:11] A Challenging Transition to Remote Work During COVID
[06:28] Missed Connections in Remote Work Environments
[08:39] Making Time for Connecting in Meetings
[11:47] How Team Management Has Changed During COVID
[14:30] What Makes Relationships Challenging in Remote Teams
[17:48] Considering Fairness and Reciprocity in Work Relationships
[22:06] Acknowledge Individual and Group Contributions
[23:35] Acknowledgment/Praise in Public versus Private
[26:41] How Personal Relationships Can Influence Professional Development
[30:41] The Important Markers of Good Leadership
[31:42] The Importance of Supporting Learning in Workplaces
[33:57] Summary of How to Create a Successful Remote Work Culture
[38:06] Publishing a Book
[41:39] Challenge/Invitation
[44:11] Ute’s Favorite Application

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… you cannot weigh off what one person is contributing and giving into the team into the community, because those might be the special talents of that person.

We are always, all the time, in relationship when we are together with people.

Transcript of the Episode

[02:06] Ute’s Experience of Remote Work

[02:06] Damianne President: How did your interest in remote work begin?

[02:10] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yes, the remote work interest started a long time before COVID. I was a remote coach and trainee, someone who attended courses online in the very early stage. I think it was back in 2012 when I had my first course that was an online course. And I did blended learning in companies, so that is the concept when the internet became more popular. And so people had access to online resources and how to best integrate them with face-to-face training. So that’s a long, long time ago. 

Working here from a small village out into the large world, it was for me the connection to the world to have it you know, for Zoom calls in the good old days. There was also gotomeeting. There were different tools that were in use. And so for me, that was a good way of connecting with colleagues around the globe, but also with clients. So a long, long time before COVID.

[03:11] A Challenging Transition to Remote Work During COVID

[03:11] Damianne President: COVID did force a lot of people to start working remotely or to start working away from the office in their home environments. What did you notice about this transition for many people? What were some of the challenges that people had with this transition?

[03:28] Ute Franzen-Waschke: I think first of all, the biggest challenge was technology. There was such a big hurdle and concerns around what if technology doesn’t work, what if my internet connection is no good, what if people can hear me, see me, understand me, whatever it was? All of that got into the way of the relationship and the task. So having this confidence in oneself that one was able to manage the technology and also the understanding on the other side that technology does not mean that the individual might not be capable. 

In the beginning, of course, the learning curve was steep. A lot of people did not have the experience from previous years. They were just thrown in at the deep end.

So in the beginning, I had the feeling that there was a bit more understanding on each and every side, because we were all in the same boat trying to learn and trying to get used to this new way of working. Then was this time when people said, wait a second, everyone has had enough time to get used to the technology. And with that came the fear again, the fear that used to be there in the beginning, because all of a sudden the technology was also a kind of measure of capability, how capable am I?

We all know that we are all very capable, but sometimes the technology just gets in the way and things that we cannot influence. So I think leveraging that and accepting what we can influence and what we cannot influence was a big learning for many people in the beginning and also throughout the whole journey, and still is in my opinion. 

[05:19] Damianne President: I also observed this with many of my friends, a lot of them being teachers. I think the other thing that people really struggled with during COVID and working in isolation in some ways, or in a socially distant way, was to be able to keep connections with other people. 

I just went through your book, How to Create a Successful Remote Work Culture and one of the things that I enjoyed about the way you present the information is that you have these different avatars, people who have different family situations, who are in different positions within a company and exploring what are some of the challenges and opportunities of working from home, working remotely.

 One of the sentences that stood out to me was about I can’t just find somebody to help me quickly around the office when I need help, or I can take a small break and go to the water cooler and connect with somebody else. What are some of the challenges that you notice with relationships in remote work places or in hybrid workplaces that are unique to that environment, different from when we’re in the office?

[06:28] Missed Connections in Remote Work Environments

[06:28] Ute Franzen-Waschke: What you described from the book, the spontaneity, so that we can just connect with people, we see them in the room. We walk over, we have a question, we can ask the question. Now we have to be much more intentional and maybe also planning in advance. What are the questions that I have for this particular person when we have a particular meeting?

So we have to really plan our meetings, not just time-wise, but also to get all of the questions answered. And because meeting time has increased, due to us working from home or remotely, that means we have fewer minutes in every meeting. Some meetings are just 30 minutes. And so that means how much time do we have to really connect with the person that we are meeting with.

In the beginning of the remote work era, so to speak, we had these tools that would help us to break the ice, to build relationships, to have a check in question and maybe a checkout question. But the challenge was I think, in the beginning, to really make sure that people did not explore it too much so that it was just enough to share, but it wouldn’t take too much of the meeting time because we had to be really succinct and concise. And so the conflict, I’m not sure if conflict is the best word, but at least the tension between how much time is spent on relationship and how much time is spent on tasks in our remote meetings is definitely something to reflect on as we go through our meeting schedules every day, 

[08:08] Damianne President: At work we do this check in and in different team configurations. Often on the agenda, it has five minutes or 10 minutes, but depending on the number of people that you have, I found that five minutes is seldom realistic. And when we have a longer agenda, then we’ll say, okay, we really need to stick to the five minutes for this check-in today. But there can be a sense of missed opportunity, I guess at times to really know what’s going on for people.

[08:39] Making Time for Connecting in Meetings

[08:39] Damianne President: How do you make sure that there is enough time to be there for the people in your team and support them in ways that they may have no other avenues for getting that support while also getting to the substance of the agenda. Have you seen some examples of practices that people could put in place where they do this especially well?

[08:59] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah, to stick with the check-in where there is a large amount of people in the room and you don’t have the time to really hear everyone, you can have it quickly in the chat box, that everyone just jots in a word or a sentence of how they feel or how they arrive at the meeting. That can be done fairly quickly also with a large amount of people. So that is one thing. 

The other thing, I think, when a leader of a meeting feels that there is something that needs to be addressed in the meeting, because unless this relationship obstacle is addressed, the tasks cannot be done, then I think this has to be addressed in a transparent way. Either the decision can be to really take the time at the meeting as everyone feels it’s beneficial for the whole process or to say, okay, this is something that needs addressing, and we will find a way how to address it. Maybe it’s a one-on-one that happens afterwards to find out what is happening for an individual that maybe is not feeling well, or that maybe it’s not having the working conditions that they need in order to feel engaged and to perform as they would normally perform.

For me, this is an added leadership skill that is required going forward for leaders to really get a sense for what is happening in the team, not just on a work, on a task related basis, but also, what is beyond that?

 So how can a leader support everyone on the team to be at their best by not just looking at do they have all of the resources that they need, all of the tools, et cetera, but also, do they have a work environment where they can flourish?

 In some places it can really be hard when everyone is home to find a quiet place. In other places it might be that people feel too isolated and they are missing the connection, and having, having the sensors out there and, and being attentive to what else is going on for my team, I think that will really distinguish a good leader of a virtual or hybrid workforce. 

[11:18] Damianne President: What I’m hearing is that there are multiple opportunities that could exist for supporting people in a team. And one of them could be, for example, check-ins or opportunities to have conversations within team meetings. A leader who’s aware of what’s happening with their team will also notice when they need to follow up with somebody in the team beyond the chance that they might have had in a team meeting.

[11:45] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah, exactly. 

[11:47] How Team Management Has Changed During COVID

[11:47] Ute Franzen-Waschke: What I have seen over the last, and we can say two years, where I coached leaders, where most of the team members were not onsite, were not in the office, I have seen that they have started to build skills around how to best lead such a workforce. What I do see is that many leaders have learned to see what else is on their plate, rather than the managerial tasks of their job. They have seen that people need maybe someone they can speak openly and transparently about issues that they are facing both in the workplace and at home. So I think leaders have become less intimidated by topics that are brought up by the workforce that are not 100% work-related.

The other thing is that leaders have also become less concerned around a certain pressure that they might have had or felt before COVID when people were working from home, that they were maybe not doing as good as they could, that they were really spending the time for work and not for other things. So I think they have become more laid back on that because it’s not about the time they spent really in front of their computers being online, but it’s more about the output they produce.

 Sometimes people can just work faster. When they are at home, they are not disturbed. Then when they are in an office and people just pop in and ask questions and they are interrupted many times. So I think leaders have learned to reframe what it means to work nine to five jobs.

I’ve seen in some emails, under the signature, like comments, we work flexibly, don’t be surprised to receive a reply at odd hours, giving people both that receive the email at an odd hour, and reading it, not the pressure I have to reply now, but also allowing people to work when it is best for them, because you know, the situations have changed in many households 

[14:14] Damianne President: I like that idea, because I think that really points at the importance of communication in flexible work environments, and remote work environments can be one of those opportunities to be a bit more flexible than we might be when we’re all in the office. 

[14:30] What Makes Relationships Challenging in Remote Teams 

[14:30] Damianne President: What do you think are some of the things that make relationships challenging within a team, either between different individual contributors in a team or between team lead and team members?

[14:45] Ute Franzen-Waschke: I think one of the areas that make relationships challenging are different ways of doing things. So it’s easy when I’m in a team and I see people are like me or I am like them and we do things in the same way or similar ways, then I can trust because then I can predict what could be the next step and what is necessary. Whereas when I’m working with someone who has a totally different style, like an opposite style maybe of mine, and I’m not sure, I haven’t worked with that person before, then I might think will the job get done in the time that we have. You have people that work consecutively with a checklist and others just wait until the last minute and the job gets done anyway.

And so when these opposite types are on a team for the first time, not having a history together, previous experience shows it could get hard, it could get difficult. Having transparency in knowledge on how we prefer, what our preferences are in doing things, how we do things, that is a huge benefit on a team and spending time on getting to know each other, not just on a personal level, but also how we like to do our jobs, how we like to work. 

[16:11] Damianne President: Another thing that you mentioned before about challenges in relationships was also about boundaries. Could you riff on that a bit, please? 

[16:21] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Boundaries are also interesting dynamics in teams, let’s say. Some people might prefer a stricter way of working, like starting in the morning and in the evening, that’s it. So those people put boundaries around their working day at home in the same way as they did in the workplace, because they went to the office, clocked in their job, clocked out, went home.

And then there are people nowadays that have some more flexibility around these boundaries. Like I said, you know, they are sending emails in the evening hours because during the day they might be busy with kids that are homeschooled or whatever it is. So I think knowing who has switched boundaries is helpful and accepting these boundaries and having open conversations in the team, whether these boundaries work for the whole team. Because if a setting works for me, it doesn’t necessarily mean it also is good for the team.

It’s always a conversation around creating how we would like to work and personal boundaries versus boundaries that the team needs in order to be effective and efficient. And all of that can only be found out when we have conversations about those items.

[17:48] Considering Fairness and Reciprocity in Work Relationships

[17:48] Damianne President: As you were talking in, the other thing that I was thinking is that with the boundaries and with flexibility in different teams is something that then comes up is about fairness. And that is a big idea in terms of remote work as well. What’s fair? Is it equitable for everybody? What does fairness in the team look like in terms of for different people, even in terms of when reciprocity comes in? So if I do something for another team member, does that mean that they need to do it back for me, under all situations or circumstances? How do you think about that?

[18:29] Ute Franzen-Waschke: That’s a good one. I like that because my personal take on giving in a relationship is that I give because I want to give and not because I expect something back. Of course, when I have the feeling that it’s just me that is constantly giving, then there is an imbalance in my relationship. But then I have the freedom to hold back and to say, I’m not giving anymore. But I think it’s difficult to give with the mindset and the expectation. I need to have something back, because then we are having these checklists, making sure that you know what I’m giving and receiving back. And if I’m not getting anything back, I’m not giving.

Sometimes, or very often actually, we don’t know when we need somebody else, maybe in the future. So for me, it’s an investment and I’m sure there will be a time when maybe I need the support of another person and it doesn’t have to be exactly the same person to whom I have given something. So it’s more the collective idea that I’m a contributor and I give when I can. I’m just convinced that I will receive back when I’m in need, when I need support. And I have seen that so many times happening in communities that I’m involved in. I like to give, I like to contribute. I like to be part of, you know, where the action is when my talent is required or needed. And so I don’t think about you know, the time it’s just the fun that I can work and support. And then there comes a time where, you know, I need the support of that community maybe, and then the community is there. And that for me means the spirit of support, relationship and community, but it’s not the one-on-one comparison, I give you that you give me that in return. That’s not how it works for me. 

[20:34] Damianne President: It becomes a lot of work as well if you need to keep track of what do you do for everybody and what everybody owes you as well, so that you can make sure you collect all your debts. I guess that mindset giving in that way is very… Well, nowadays the common term is about abundance mindset. I don’t know that that’s necessarily what we have to call it here, but definitely trusting in community and participating in community.

[21:00] Ute Franzen-Waschke: And also thinking in terms of, when you look at a team, when you look at a community, all of the different talents that are in that community, so you cannot weigh off what one person is contributing and giving into the team into the community, because those might be the special talents of that person. And I think everyone who has something to contribute will do that because it also gives you this good feeling that you could make a contribution, that you could be part of something. It doesn’t have to be something bigger, but it could be a contribution to the next step only. And maybe then the next step that has to be taken after that is something that I cannot do, somebody else from the team helps out and somebody else from the community adds to it. It’s really looking at what is it that each and every individual has and how these ingredients make a good recipe kind of a thing.

[22:06] Acknowledge Individual and Group Contributions

[22:06] Damianne President: I am wondering and also thinking about the importance of acknowledging people’s contributions, and how that works within organizations? What are the best practices and how important is it to acknowledge individual contributions as well as group contributions?

[22:26] Ute Franzen-Waschke: I don’t know if you know Judith E. Glaser. She has the conversational intelligence framework; she developed that. She said always, it’s important to see the I inside the we. So when someone makes a contribution, it’s also important that that one is acknowledged and that it doesn’t dilute within the community. Because that recognition is also part of what makes the person or what encourages the person to contribute another time.

So if my contribution all goes into a black hole and it’s just soaked up by the black hole, then there was no reward in the sense of somebody saw that I did something that I made a contribution. But if a team leader sees and acknowledges what each and every team member brings to the team, I think this is the wonderful cocktail that is being mixed, and it creates an awareness around where maybe the talents in the teams are so that we can really pull the resources the next time a bit more intentionally. 

[23:35] Acknowledging in Public versus Private

[23:35] Damianne President: What do you think about this type of acknowledgement being in public versus private?

[23:40] Ute Franzen-Waschke: I can definitely see cultural differences in acknowledging contributions and value for the team. So I’m based in Germany, I’m German. And I would say that in German teams, it’s not normal. It’s not the standard that contributions are acknowledged in the same way as maybe in the US or the UK team. I would even go one step further by saying in a German team, it could happen that if you get a pat on the shoulder, somebody is praising you, that people might say, oh, wait a second, why am I receiving that praise now? Is there maybe another task waiting for me where I don’t have the time for? Or is there anything that I’m not seeing quite yet? So there is something like suspicious thinking around it because it’s not what they commonly experience. This has changed a bit also with the generations in the workplace. 

I must say the younger generation of course requires more praise and recognition from their leaders also in our country right now. But I do think there are still cultural differences in that respect. 

[25:10] Damianne President: One of the things that our previous team lead did was to ask different people on the team, there is the love languages, and I think there is a version also for teams in terms of how do you like to receive feedback, do you prefer to receive it in private or in public? I think it definitely depends on team culture, which of course the location may influence the culture of the teams as well. So it’s probably a good point of conversation to have within teams and within companies.

[25:40] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Absolutely. And what you brought up this, this public praise, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Also that is something to discuss, to talk about openly in a team setting. Whereas feedback and praise are two different things for me, praise is positive feedback whereas feedback, feed forward can have also developmental points. Both, I think, need to be negotiated between the team members and the leaders and how they would like that to take place and happen in order to not hurt relationships. 

[26:23] Damianne President: I think that’s a big part of relationship building too, because being responsive to what the different people in the team need or want also helps establish trust between the members of the team.

[26:37] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah.

[26:41] How Personal Relationships Can Influence Professional Development

[26:41] Damianne President: I’d like to get a little bit personal now and ask you how have relationships influenced professional development in your own experience?

[26:51] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah. I think without the relationships that I’ve come across and developed and had the pleasure to build and develop over time, I wouldn’t be who I am right now. There are professional relationships that have influenced me in a sense that they have inspired my thinking that have trained and educated me. But also that they have given me confidence. They encouraged me to do this, that or the other with whom I could talk about ideas. So I think the relationships that I’ve had in my life are part of who I am. 

[27:34] Damianne President: Is there any relationship that stands out for you that you think, or that was a turning point?

[27:40] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah, definitely Judith E. Glaser. I mean she was a very special relationship for me at my stage, in my career, when I was trained by her and worked with her, definitely.

 Before I became a coach, when I was working in companies, that there was one particular boss that I had in one of my first jobs who gave me a lot of freedom to do the job the way I think it should be done, not telling me how to do the job. He gave me a lot of freedom to try out my best practices, to find my own way, and also saw certain talents in me that were not listed on my CV, let’s say, were not listed in any certificate or degree that I had.

 He just saw me and the work that I did and approached me and said would you like to learn more about this area that is not here in the company yet, but we would like to implement it? The offer as it came, it was very attractive. And I was thinking, this in no way reflects my career experience so far, but I trusted him. I thought if he sees that I can do this, then I will just give it a try. I know that I would have never gotten this chance if it wasn’t for him, with his special mindset and how he saw people, not per certificate and CV, but by the work that I did and by the passion they brought to work.

 And I think it was also the environment that I was working in. It was a young company, lots of engineers, lots of technical experts on the one side, but also coming from a cultural background where degrees and levels were less relevant and important.

Here in Germany, it’s very important that you have the right title for the right job. That is the key that opens the door. And then of course you have to prove that what the key makes you get in that you can really do it. But in some jobs you don’t get in if you don’t have the key, if you don’t have the certificate, if you don’t have the title.

In other cultures and other countries, you get the chance without it and can still prove that you can do it. And so I was really, really lucky to get that chance at a very early stage in my career. And I think that also coined the way I was looking at leadership also in the future. Now, in retrospect, how I see teams, how I see the role of leaders. And so that definitely, definitely tints the way I work nowadays. 

[30:41] The Important Markers of Good Leadership

[30:41] Damianne President: It sounds like this team lead really provided an opportunity for you to see the whole bigger picture and not just pinpoint on very specific items.

[30:51] Ute Franzen-Waschken: Yeah. And he did that, not just for me. I could see it in the whole department. It was consistent, let’s say. And I’m thinking that is another thing that is important when we look at leadership like authenticity and consistency. You mentioned the word fairness. I mean, we could link it to seeing fair treatment for everyone, but yeah, for me, it was being authentic, being consistent and trying to see what is good for the company and for the team because of business needs, to look at the bottom lines as well, but also how can we employ the resources, the people that we have in such a way that it’s good and rewarding both for the company and for the individual. 

[31:42] The Importance of Supporting Learning in Workplaces

[31:42] Damianne President: I really like that idea too, because then it connects to mindset, which I think is something else that’s interesting to you. If, I think, companies want people that can learn, not just people who can follow a checklist of items, then you need to acknowledge where learning is happening also and provide opportunities for that to happen. In my own experience, that is the most rewarding kind of place to work.

[32:08] Ute Franzen-Waschke: A lot of companies have wonderful programs out there for their staff to develop. And yet what is really, really important is that when they come back from that training from that course, that they can apply their learning. When people come back, they are often so motivated in trying out new things and then they realize, wait a second, there is some resistance. 

[32:32] Damianne President: Yes.

[32:33] Ute Franzen-Waschke: because it’s new and we haven’t done it that way, and will it work? So sending people out for training is great, but letting them come back and really applying the learnings is even greater. Because where is the sense in training people and not having the benefit from their learnings just because it’s a new approach or something different.

 That reminds me also, someone who said when you start educating people, you must be prepared for the questions that they are asking, and you must be prepared to answer the questions and take the question seriously and not just to ignore that.

[33:11] Damianne President: Yeah, this is a bit of a tangent. I remember my dad saying something like this because my little sisters went to this private school. And one of the features of this school that was especially exciting and attractive to the family was that they would learn to be critical thinkers and to question things.

And I remember them coming home and wanting to question everything, all the decisions that the parents would present, and at some point, my dad saying, well, I guess it is what we send them to school for. And so we can’t get too upset as the parents when they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.

[33:51] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a good example. Exactly. That’s what I meant.

[33:57] Summary of How to Create a Successful Remote Work Culture

[33:57] Damianne President: You published a book last year that I mentioned earlier, How to Create a Successful Remote Work Culture. Could you give us a quick summary of what the book is about? 

[34:08] Ute Franzen-Waschke: The book was written, two years ago, 2020, in the time when everyone had to work from home and I wrote the book to give people some guidance around the model that I had used before COVID, but really a lot during the COVID period, to help coaching individual coaches and my teams to get their head around what is going on.

 My model has four dimensions. And in the book I’m explaining the dimensions as such, but I’m also having the other ties, as you said, guiding the reader through the dimensions with their stories, with their experience. So it’s about people, processes, application, and structure, and the avatars work at different levels in organization, and different positions have different views on how it is to work from home because of their previous experience, either having the privilege already to work from home or to work from other places other than the office or not. 

And so the book comes to life through the avatar, but the intention of the book was to give people a guide to the model so that they can work through the model on their own, not just with a coach or a facilitator like me, but just by reading what is behind and maybe getting some ideas of questions that you can ask in your team around the four dimensions to get a better understanding what is it that is maybe getting in the way and maybe also to see and celebrate what is already working well. 

[35:51] Damianne President: Yes, one of the things I like about the book is it doesn’t pretend to be prescriptive. It presents the model but it really is a model. And there are lots of questions for individuals or teams who are going through the book to come up with the answers that work for their organization. I think that this type of book presents really an opportunity to engage and understand on a whole different level because you’re doing the work as you go through it.

[36:21] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah, it’s not a recipe that you can follow and then you put something in and you know exactly what you’re getting out. It’s a little bit of an adventure, maybe, for some people to embark on such a discovery around people, processes, application, and structures, because it shows what is working and what is not working. And then teams can decide what is important for us now to focus on in that very moment, because in 2020, there was a lot of overwhelm. Where should we start? We are lost? We are overwhelmed with what is happening. And so getting some structure around the overwhelm is one thing, but also the freedom to decide.

 We don’t have to start with people. We could, but we can also start and look at all of the applications. Applications are nowadays really, really important because there has been such a flood of new tools and new things you can use in order to get your remote team together.

But all of the things, the tools, were added on top of everything else and nobody’s really looking at which tools are still serving us and which are just something that we maintain for historical reasons or for whatever reasons and really looking at this landscape and see what is it that we can bin, what is it that we have to keep and what is it where we are not as well organized yet. And in our tool landscape, what tools should we maybe take on board that replace the ones that are not so effective and efficient for us. So I think you have a lot of possibilities with the model. 

[38:06] Publishing a Book

[38:06] Damianne President: As I read that book, you referenced what you learned from other people’s application of the models and how you revise your own model from these conversations, from experiences of other people.

 It sounds like the relationships that you had were really rewarding in helping you improve this model and in publishing this book. I’m curious, how did the relationships around you play into this life event for you of being able to publish your book?

[38:37] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah. So you were referencing the passage in the book I was exploring how the second P made it into the book for processes. 

[38:47] Damianne President: Yes.

[38:48] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah. Yeah. So this is what I meant, you know, like having conversations and being open to what people are saying and thinking, and not saying I just know what is right for my book, for my model. So really listening and reflecting and validating the points and then saying, okay, this is maybe something I missed. And so I add it

 the model is still the model, but I keep on saying it’s maturing with every workshop that I’m offering, with clients using the model, because every team is different. Every time I learned something, a tiny little bit about a dimension of the model, another question that we could ask. So it’s maturing and improving with the use, with the application of the model.

To your question, it’s the relationship again that makes the difference, that builds out the model, makes it more mature, makes it more solid, makes it more tested and validated on one side. 

On the other side, when I published a book, it was the first book that I published alone. Yeah, I had published the year before with the collective, with my community, different authors. We went all together out with the book, but this time around, it was my book. And so the closer it got to the publication date, the more I felt like, oh God, what am I doing? I’m stepping out into the world, you know, all by myself. And who’s going to be interested in that and who is going to read it.

I had this community with whom I published the first book and they were right there. They were right there for the book launch. They were right there to support me. Also, when I was looking for a book cover, I had some suggestions from the publisher. And I went out to my community, to some trusted clients and I sent them the book covers and I said, Hey, what do you think about the book covers? So I didn’t do a crowdsourcing, but I asked my friends, my colleagues. Because when we published the book together, there were 15, 16 voices that would say something about the book cover, but it was just me and maybe my family. And so I asked my community because I cannot know it all and what is best.

I was interested in getting some input and with that input, a really brand new cover developed, the one that we can see now on the book, because all of the impressions and feedback was integrated in that one. And so I think that was a wonderful process to go through. 

[41:39] Challenge/Opportunity

[41:39] Damianne President: The thing that I really liked in your book is that you say a journey starts with a first step, which parallels very much the tagline from Changes Big and Small, which is change begins with one small step. Do you have an invitation or a challenge for listeners of a first step they could take for better relationships at work, whatever their circumstances might be.

[42:03] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah. The first step is I think to start with oneself, and to ask oneself, how am I in that relationship or who am I in that relationship? Is this a relationship that I feel safe and comfortable in? And why is that? What can I do more of to make it even safer and more comfortable for me? Oh, is that the relationship where I have the feeling I need to protect myself, where I need to be on guard, where I need to be a little bit cautious and what could I do to reduce that level of protection. Can I have a conversation with the person around my emotions, around how I feel about our relationship.

We have so many relationships in the workplace and we cannot be on good terms with everyone, but being intentional and conscious about which relationships are the good ones and which ones are the challenging ones will be a good starting point. And to start with, with the I, start how you see it, because if you don’t know how you are standing in that relationship, it’s very difficult to guess maybe what the other person is experiencing.

[43:28] Damianne President: Thank you for that.

Let’s say you could wave a magic wand and you could have everyone who is listening. Think about a particular element of relationships, to consider something specific about relationships, what would it be? What do you want people to know or think about relationships?

[43:46] Ute Franzen-Waschke: I want people to know that we are always in relationships. We cannot not be in relationships? This is something really important, even with people saying I don’t want to have a relationship with that person or with that team member, you already have one. We are always, all the time, in relationship when we are together with people. 

[44:11] Ute’s Favorite Application

[44:11] Damianne President: When I was reading your book, it said that your favorite application is Howspace. 

[44:17] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yes. 

[44:17] Damianne President: I had never heard of Howspace. Can you give me a little spiel about Howspace?

[44:23] Ute Franzen-Waschke: I was phase Howspace is a virtual collaboration platform. It brings people together. It builds relationships in the virtual space by allowing people to engage before a workshop, during a workshop, and after the workshop. It has many fancy widgets all on one platform. Just imagine it like a website but a website that is used more for workshop applications. 

Let’s say you can have votes on that website. You can have pictures on the website where people can discuss around the picture. Last week, we had a bar camp, where I showed how space and what you can do with it. And we created a menu by using chat messages, where people would say, this is my favorite starter, this is my favorite main course, this is my favorite dessert. 

Then, as they were typing into the chat box, we created likes. So people could go in and put a starter, a main course or a dessert. And from the likes ,we could, as if we were in the room, rearrange the cards and say, okay, nine out of 10 people said, we all want to have pumpkin soup for starters.

And so we co-created a menu by having online voting on that platform. You can use it for different kinds of applications and get people involved, get people together. I just love it.

[46:04] Damianne President: Well, with that recommendation, I have to check out Howspace.

[46:08] Ute Franzen-Waschke: Yeah, go to my website and there is a link to Howspace, when you go to services, at the very bottom, it says virtual learning journeys, and there is a link and just click it. It takes you straight to Howspace. 


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