Team Goal Setting

Dear Dr. Jim,
Do you have any tips for team goal setting for the New Year?
– Chris*

Hi Chris,
If I was in your shoes, and I am, the number one thing that I would make clear with my team members is: what are our norms and our rules of engagement? How are we going to conduct ourselves? The things we agree on need to be unanimous because they are the rules that we’re all going to play by. Any kind of game that we play, the game of life, football, chess, whatever it is, there are rules. If you don’t follow the rules, things are going to go awry.

The second thing, I tend to like to set 90-day goals around the overarching expectations, big goals, or purpose for the team as a whole. By setting 90-day goals you can review them on an ongoing basis. If you set a goal for a whole year, it’s a really difficult thing to try to do, it’s too long a time.

So go for 90 days. At the end of 90 days, review the following: What went well? What do we need to improve on? What might we be missing? What is it that I need to do more of to help my team fulfill the goals? What would I like more of from the team? You can do this through each month up to the 90 days. Take a look at it, re-jig it depending on what’s going on, things that are happening, etc.

One of the other things to do is as a team—and this is really on the leader—if you’ve got high priority things that you need to do over the next let’s say 90 days, 120 days, 180 days, it is your responsibility to help your team stay focused on those goals and protect them from incursions from outside that may get them off track. Make sure everybody is sticking to goals. Check-in once a month, hang in there, and stay focussed.

Really important: norms and rules of engagement. Discipline. Discipline gives you freedom. That’s one of the absolute aspects of life. The more disciplined one is, the more freedom you’re going to experience. Tough to do. Hang in there, take care.

– Dr. Jim

*names have been changed

Spice It Up!

Dear Dr. Jim,
Working from home can get monotonous. How can I spice it up for the New Year?
– Sam*


Hi Sam,
I’ve been working remotely for about 20 years, and it’s certainly different now than it was a year ago before COVID hit. So, there’s that to consider.

First of all, find your comfort level. Set up your area so it’s as comfortable as you can make it for yourself.

The next thing is focus on priority setting, not time management. Every day or week, whichever is your preference, decide what the first item on your list is that you want to get done, what’s the second, the third, and try to work through those items throughout the day or week.

Something else that I do every day, all day, is I make sure to take breaks at least every 30 or 40 minutes. I go somewhere, I get away from my computer, I do something else. I may call or Zoom with a friend or colleague to have some interactions with people, to just have a chat.

Make sure that you feed yourself well. Stay away from the junk food, it’s not a good thing — you start to feel crappy after a while. Also, every day I try to do some kind of exercise. I get out of the office, go outside, walk around safely (i.e., social distancing), to bring in some variety.

Another thing is to make sure that you set up times when you’re going to work. And, whenever you stop, make sure you turn off your computer, the displays, the whole thing to help disciplining yourself to stay away from the computer. Because what we’re finding with people who are working remotely is that once you start getting bored you go back to your computer and start doing more work.

Finally, make sure you get enough sleep. It’s really important in terms of making sure you keep your energy up.

These are some of the things I do on a regular basis and it seems to be working.

Hopefully this is helpful!
– Dr. Jim

*names have been changed

Top 3 Ask Dr. Jim Questions 2020

Dr. Jim Sellner, PhD. DipC. answers questions on leadership, motivation, accountability, manager connection, and working on a remote team.

Feeling Fatigued

Dear Dr. Jim,
What is Zoom fatigue, because I think I may have it. What can I do about it?

Stand Up!

Hi Dr. Jim,
I hadn’t anticipated how totally stationary I would be while working from home. My back hurts and I gained weight. It’s taking a toll on my motivation. Help!
– Jean-Claude*

K.I.S.S. Your Data

Dr. Jim,
There is so much employee data available now, how do I decide what to focus on?
– Connie*

*names have been changed

Feedback Insecurities

Dear Dr. Jim,
My manager has been giving more regular feedback. I know she’s trying to be helpful and constructive. Why am I having such a tough time hearing it and feeling insecure?
– George*


Hi George,
That’s a big question! But let me take a shot at it. In what we call The Communication Loop™, there is the sender of the information, or the feedback. You might be getting a sense of, “it’s not so much what they are saying, but how they are saying it.”

You may have a sense that they are being punishing or they do it at a time when you are busy, without asking if you have time to talk now. Maybe the sender of the message is inaccurate or is not being clear.

Another thing, I see this often with managers, IS they actually talk too much. When somebody is sending a message about feedback it should be very succinct: “I notice that have been 3 days late on your financial report the last 2 months.” It is very short, and it describes a behavior and outcome. Then, they should be quiet and wait for you to respond.

Now, let’s discuss the receiver side. You may be busy and you feel like you are being interrupted. Maybe you don’t respect this manager so you have difficulties taking in what they have to say. You may get defensive because you think you’ve been doing a good job, and if that’s the case the two of you should have what we call a feedforward conversation to talk together about the issues and start moving toward finding better ways of doing things.

Another issue there could be is around some kind of expectation that originally was not set very clearly. If that’s the case it’s up to you to talk to you manager to get clear on the expectations.

It could even be that personally you often feel defensive and triggered. That’s an opportunity for you to work on your emotional intelligence and be more self-aware of your triggers.

But, I would guess that it is probably a two-way street, so it’s the both of you that need to work on this. It’s up to you, if you’re having a difficulty to have a conversation with your manager, assuming you have a pretty good relationship with them and are willing to experience your courage and look over the edge of fear to clear this up. Hope this helps.
– Dr. Jim

*names have been changed


Dear Dr. Jim,
I have an employee who often times when I bring up an issue to provide feedback deflects from the situation. What can I do about it?
– Trina*


Hi Trina,

We call this sidetracking, and it’s probably more common than you think. In fact, at Vivo Team we teach a whole session on it.

You must always do the following when dealing with sidetracks: Listen carefully to what the sidetracker is saying, but always come back to the goal. Work together to find a solution and follow up by reviewing the progress and providing feedback. Watch this helpful scenario (above) that we use in our training to see these steps in action! Hope this helps.
– Dr. Jim

*names have been changed

The Bigger Picture

Dear Dr. Jim,
I’m feeling disconnected from the bigger picture of the organization, I imagine many others are as well. How can I better connect with my team and my work? What is it all for!?!
– Jeff*

Hi Jeff,
Great question! It’s always good to have clarity in terms of what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how that contributes to the success of the organization. The first thing you could do is ask your manager one-on-one, or you suggest a team meeting to discuss how what we are doing—and why we are doing it—fits into the larger picture of the organization.

Explain that a better understanding and clearer picture will help you stay motivated and productive! Hopefully they will be willing to do that and you can get together virtually have a conversation that will get everybody clear and in the same boat, all moving in the same direction.
– Dr. Jim


Energy Booster

Dr. Jim,
Before covid we really thrived on each others energy and working closely together. With us now working remotely, I need to figure out how to get that energy back. What can I do?


Hi Beth,
We see this all the time when there is a major shift of some kind. This is a major shift for many people when they go from working in the office to working remotely. You’ll notice behavior changes, some people may have been really good at what they were doing before, but are maybe not so good now. Check in with them and ask how it’s going.

I also recommend that at least three times a week at an appointed time get together online and do a check in. Everybody goes around first and says what they are working on. You do another round of what are your stuck points or what am I frustrated about. Do a final round where everybody says a win they have had recently. So people are talking together and you are maintaining connection.

Another thing, it’s a bit radical, but you could for 1 hour maybe in the morning and one in the afternoon, everyone come up on screen and work together at the same time. You can see everyone moving around and doing their thing, you can have a little chat, just like in your office. There’s not much difference in many respects, except it’s virtual and some people may need time to get used to that. Again, it increases the connection and it can really help people in terms of stress and anxiety just to know people are there with them, even if it’s electronically.

Give it a shot, watch for changes in behavior and respond to help them get better, and encourage people who are doing well.
-Dr. Jim

*names have been changed


Dr. Jim,
It looks like Covid-19 will continue to have an impact for some time. How can I best equip my leaders to handle all the continued changes and adaptations necessary?


Hi Trevor,
Number one is to stay in touch, keep up-to-date. Ask what’s working well, what needs improvement, what might we be missing?

Also, make sure to meet regularly in Zoom or Microsoft Teams, on video, and rotate the chairthat is the person usually responsible to organize those things. The reason for doing that is, as people are out of the office for a longer period of time, the further we get away from the centre, the fuzzier things get. So, we have a group of managers working remotely, then we have the managers people working remotely, so they all have to make sure to stay in contact.

Another tip is to keep the Zoom meetings where you are updating your team, to a maximum of 15 minutes, no longer. Otherwise people are going to feel that Zoom fatigue thing.

Also, make sure to look for, in your managers, how well they are dealing with the situation. Some people are going to like it, and some are going to struggle with it.

Finally, be aware of your managers who are working too much. Taking breaks is really important because we don’t want people to burnout. Hopefully his helps. Covid is going to continue for a while, we just need to adjust to it.
-Dr. Jim

*names have been changed

Feeling Fatigued

Dear Dr. Jim,
What is Zoom fatigue, because I think I may have it. What can I do about it?


Hi Barb,

So called Zoom fatigue, from my perspective, is a result of all the things that already weren’t working well in face-to-face meetings. When we moved in-person meetings to Zoom or Microsoft Team, what happened is people didn’t adjust to the new format. Some people were against being on camera (which I think is a huge mistake) and it revealed that many meetings were not very well run to begin with. Here are some tips:

1. In online meetings it’s important to connect with each other. Start off everybody with something like “What’s going on with you?” or “How are you coming to this meeting?”

2. It is absolutely crucial that an agenda be made and sent out to everybody 24 hours before. Ensure that you move through the agenda and that everybody helps to move it along.

3. Some people like to talk a lot and some people don’t ever speak up. It’s everyone’s responsibility to curtail that. The organizer can and should call on people in order to keep a balanced forum.

4. Do a check in every once in a while by asking what’s going well and what needs improvement to help keep your team focused and on target.

There’s a lot more to it, like the whole technical part of running a meeting so that people aren’t distracted by bad camera angles or lighting. Fixing those elements will help, too. It is a difficult thing to get used to, you might even want to take some training on how to run online meetings well. -Dr. Jim

-Dr. Jim

*names have been changed

Connection = Cohesion

Dear Dr. Jim,
How can I build a cohesive team when some are back in the office and some are still (and maybe will continue to be) working from home?


Hi Gwen,
We at Vivo Team recommend that at least three times a week virtually get together for no more than 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your team, and do a check in.

What you do is a quick go round, every says what they are working on or what their priority is for the day. Then you do another round where everyone says a stuck point, what’s getting in the way of getting stuff done today. Lastly, every goes around and says a win they have had.

I would also encourage people who are used to working closely with each other in the office, that both of you go on Zoom, and you can actually be side-by-side if that’s something you need.

The other thing to do is to make sure that you have, a least every quarter, a 15 minute meeting with your manager. What you are going to talk about is: What you have accomplished in the last thee months; What you still need to accomplish; and one item that you would like to work on to improve your professional development.

Sometimes what people are doing as well, is on a Friday having a virtual get together to just chat and talk about what’s going on. Once people get used to it you’ll feel quite connected, quite cohesive. It doesn’t have to be a barrier if you have discipline. Discipline is the key.
-Dr. Jim

*names have been changed