Leading Remote Teams to Peak Performance During the Global Pandemic
By Jessica Sager
Delta Associates, Inc.
Reaching out to you: In this special edition of the Tuesday Report, we thank you, our readers, for the opportunity to serve you. Our mission and passion is to stand with you as we move through the COVID-19 crisis. Our goal is to not only survive but to thrive in these challenging circumstances. Please contact us and let us know how we can help.
Carol Kallendorf, PhD, Founder, Jack Speer, President, Jessica Sager, Senior Consultant
Is Your Team Optimized To Work Remotely? Make It Your Competitive Edge
In any time, having a high performing, cohesive team is one of the few remaining competitive advantages available to any organization looking for a powerful point of differentiation.
In these turbulent times of global pandemic, having a high performing team is absolutely critical to an organization’s immediate and long term success. With the current global Coronavirus pandemic, many companies and organizations are making the choice to quickly transition to being a remote workforce.
While remote workers are not anything new, the number of companies that will choose- or be forced- to move to a remote workforce environment will grow exponentially in the coming weeks and months.
The question is: Is your team optimized to work remotely, or will the transition backfire and cause harm to your organization?
For the past 20 years, Delta Associates has consulted with hundreds of organizations- with both onsite and remote workforces – as well as employed our own remote team members and associates. In doing so, we have identified the common mistakes teams make, as well as the tools and strategies needed to optimize a remote workforce.
Are you making these common mistakes?
- “Out of sight, out of mind.” The first mistake of running remote teams is simple- what you can’t see, you can’t manage. Since you aren’t with your remote teammates every day in the same office, it can be easy to forget to check in with them and get pulled away by other tasks and priorities (and distractions). Staying focused- on team performance, on results, and on progress- becomes even more critical when they aren’t just outside your office door.
- “No news is good news.” Under-communicating–about goals, feedback, performance, even just to build rapport–is a common challenge all leaders make. Even more than job related feedback – which is important- it’s also essential to build a sense of community among remote teams, helping team members share about their everyday life and maintain relationships. “Water cooler conversations” help build camaraderie and trust among teams. If there’s no water cooler to gather around, the leader must focus on developing a communication cadence that cultivates the same sense of community.
- “Which direction is this ship sailing?” In a fast-changing business environment, it can be hard keeping everyone on the same page and rowing in the same direction, even in the best of circumstances and situations. Add to it the challenge of a dispersed team, perhaps with people in different time zones or on different schedules, the challenge of cascading messages only grows.
On the other side, what do effective remote teams – and remote team leaders- do to optimize their performance? Follow these 5 guidelines to maximize your remote team’s potential.
- Clarity. Strong remote teams have clarity- and alignment – on four key points: clarity of purpose, clarity of goals, clarity of expectations, and clarity of norms. As a leader of a remote team, you must continually share about the purpose of the work and the goals the team is working towards. Repetition is everything. Additionally, remote workers need clear expectations for their work, as well as clear norms for interacting as a remote workforce.
- Availability. Management availability to team members is critical, especially when it’s not as easy to just do an office pop-by. Employees need to know they can have their needs addressed in a timely manner and that their manager cares about them. Being extra available and responsive- via Slack, email, text, calls- helps a remote team feel supported even when there is distance.
- Communication. It goes without saying that strong communication is the foundation of any strong team. Using tools such as Slack or other apps not only helps make communication and updates easy, it also helps cultivate “watercooler conversations”, even without a watercooler. As a leader, don’t underestimate the power and importance of gif games and small talk on chat channels; in fact, encourage them. Ongoing communication strengthens team bonds and the ability to produce results.
- Connection Daily huddles and regular meetings establish a rhythm for connection that is essential for a strong team. Weekly 1-on-1’s- either 30 minutes to an hour long- help employees feel connected and help ensure alignment across the team. Video conferencing, via Zoom, google hangout or any other platform, builds a stronger sense of connectedness than phone, email or text alone.
With the right focus, tools, and support, a remote team can equal- or even outperform- an onsite team.
Want to learn more about how to optimize your remote team? Schedule a call with Delta Associates today. firstname.lastname@example.org 512-498-9780.