Rick Bowers of TTI Success Insights: “Feeling underappreciated”

While giving feedback remotely, make sure that your employee understands what their next steps are. In such a difficult time full of disconnect and separation, leaving them with only criticism and no concrete next steps will cause panic, disengagement and stress. Let them know where you’d like to see improvement, offer a tangible next step, […]

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While giving feedback remotely, make sure that your employee understands what their next steps are. In such a difficult time full of disconnect and separation, leaving them with only criticism and no concrete next steps will cause panic, disengagement and stress. Let them know where you’d like to see improvement, offer a tangible next step, and provide resources to improve the needed skills.

As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a remote team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Bowers.

Rick Bowers is the President of TTI Success Insights. TTI SI reveals human potential by expanding the awareness of self, others and organizations. Diving deeper than DISC, TTI SI provides professionals solutions to hire, engage and develop the right people and build strong teams. To learn more, visit

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?

I’ve been working at TTI SI for 32years. As our previous ‘jack of all trades’, I’ve worked in marketing, design, customer support, IT, and now leadership. I was the President of the International Company in 2015 and have been the President of the North American company since 2016. These experiences give me perspective and understanding as a leader, and I’m very happy to have been able to work in different positions to support our network.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Well, like I said, it’s been 32 years with the same company. I have gone from growing up in a very small town in Iowa to traveling the world building the TTI Success Insights brand. I have been to more countries than states, and I have been to 6 of the 7 continents ( I am still looking for a reason to get to Antarctica!)

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I believe in the philosophy that all mistakes are opportunities to get better. As I try to sift through 32 years of mistakes, I think the biggest lesson I have learned is the fact that you can learn from every mistake. Personal accountability becomes very interesting as a leader and a parent. I view all mistakes as a chance to improve!

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

Pace yourself! Working remotely, especially for the first time, is a marathon, not a sprint. Offering flexible hours for your remote employees, especially parents of children who are now learning virtually, can be exactly what you need to thrive.

We recently held a wellness summit to check in on our entire organization, and leadership decided to offer shorter Fridays. Encourage your team to take time off to recharge, and make sure that everyone is truly logging out and keeping regular hours, as much as you can.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Some companies have many years of experience with managing a remote team. Others have just started this, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you tell us how many years of experience you have managing remote teams?

TTI SI has both an international and a national team, so in some capacity, our company has always had remote members. Our entire Scottsdale team has been working remotely since 3/16, however, and we’ve learned a lot in the last 6 months.

Managing a team remotely can be very different than managing a team that is in front of you. Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding managing a remote team? Can you give a story or example for each?

  1. Disengaging from their work
  2. It’s hard to focus under extreme stress and pressure. If your team is under financial or emotional stress, you can’t expect them to give you 100 percent, and that’s ok.
  3. Feeling underappreciated
  4. Now that your team isn’t working face-to-face, they might be missing some communication and appreciation from leadership. If your team is sprinting from project to project with no recognition, they’re going to burn out.
  5. Overworking
  6. Now that we don’t have a commute or a time to leave the office, many people are working far outside of their regular 8 to 5. By not consciously logging off and stepping away from work, many are increasing their levels of stress.
  7. Not handling stress as it occurs
  8. Speaking of stress! If you aren’t self aware and acknowledging the effects stress has on your mind and body, you’re going to feel those effects more strongly. You can’t keep pushing down your emotions and reactions in the long term.
  9. Turning inward when experiencing problems
  10. The sense of isolation while working from home can be devastating, especially for outgoing people. If they don’t have open lines of communication and encouragement to reach out, they might internalize their issues.

Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges?

  1. Correct disengagement by learning about your team’s motivations
  2. Everyone has their own personal motivations to complete work and build out their career. At TTI SI, we call these Driving Forces. When you discover exactly what each member of your team is motivated by, you can fight disengagement by tailoring their work to their passions.
  3. Make your appreciation known!
  4. Now is the right time to be heavy handed with praise. Research from the Gottman Institute shows that it takes 5 positive interactions to compensate for 1 negative interaction. Make sure you are publicly and privately acknowledging efforts and achievements across your team, and encourage each manager to do the same.
  5. Overworking
  6. Here’s where you need to lead by example. Make sure that your team understands if you message them outside of regular hours, they’re not expected to reply until the next day. If possible, allow for more flexible hours and consider giving extra vacation for employee appreciation.
  7. Not handling stress as it occurs
  8. Find resources for your team and make them readily available. Does your company health insurance include therapy and access to psychiatry? Do the parents in your organization have resources to help them with homeschooling and virtual learning?
  9. Turning inward when experiencing problems
  10. Communication is, again, the key here. Do you model open communication across the company? What’s your strategy for internalizing feedback and implementing change? Make sure that when someone reaches out, you listen.

In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of managing a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote employee?

While giving feedback remotely, make sure that your employee understands what their next steps are. In such a difficult time full of disconnect and separation, leaving them with only criticism and no concrete next steps will cause panic, disengagement and stress. Let them know where you’d like to see improvement, offer a tangible next step, and provide resources to improve the needed skills.

Can you specifically address how to give constructive feedback over email? How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

Be careful about your word choice, and don’t just fire off an email as soon as you write it. Consider the recipient’s preferred communication style and adjust your wording accordingly. Offer a video call to clarify any questions or concerns — At TTI SI, we actually have a company policy that dictates all coaching must take place face-to-face, whether that means in person or over video calls.

Can you share any suggestions for teams who are used to working together on location but are forced to work remotely due to the pandemic. Are there potential obstacles one should avoid with a team that is just getting used to working remotely?

The biggest mistake you can make while working remotely is assuming everyone else is having the same working from home experience as you. Everyone has unique challenges, as well as a unique behavioral style. Having enough self awareness to truly understand that is the most important thing you should acknowledge.

What do you suggest can be done to create a healthy and empowering work culture with a team that is remote and not physically together?

Make communication a priority. We have a chat platform called Mattermost which supports our entire organization — each team has private channels, we have direct messaging, and we also have company-wide channels to share organizational news as well as pictures of our pets. It’s a great way to stay connected and check on each other.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement TTI SI and I are both dedicated to is the People First movement. By placing an emphasis on understanding behavior and improving behavior, workplaces and organizations are transformed for the better. I’ve seen it happen and I’m always happy to be a part of it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Simon Sinek is a huge inspiration to me. I love this insight of his: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” That’s why the TTI SI mission to reveal human potential is so important to me.

Thank you for these great insights!

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