Tell me a little more about your role and what you focus on? (another reframe may be – Tell me a little more about your work?)
It’s likely that this question will take you in the broad landscape of what someone does. It can be useful to hear what they do, where they are based, what they are responsible for. Are they part of a local office that you can’t see, or do they work from home? Are they part of just your team or multiple matrix teams? What are the major items they are responsible for?
Tell me a little more about your priorities right now?
This question helps get at what their priorities are. In the remote space, it’s easy to think that everyone is working on the same projects that we are, when in fact, they may have two or three other priorities ahead of ours.
How do you see our roles fitting together?
This question may be a “door opener” to your peer asking you questions about your work and what you do. It may also help to clarify the intersection points of your work. The value of having regular conversations and talking about what you do is that you may start seeing even more connections together than you did in isolation.
What type of communication is going to work for you?
This question helps to create a proactive approach to teamwork. The support needed, and valued, by each team member may be different.
Asking how you can support others in their work can surface a discussion around strengths, preferences, and how each team member is unique. If you know that someone puts an emphasis on brevity and timeliness, your response can adapt. It may mean short bullet form emails, specific to the task, rather than long winded emails which ask questions about how people are doing as in the case of another team member who values relationships, inquiry and a slower pace.
Beyond this, you will likely hear about the varying channel preferences people have and the frequency people will value.
What should I know about your work context and preferences?
In the remote space our team may be “on” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (24/7). Understanding how people work, where they work and what their context is critical for communication, workflow and also prioritization. If you know that someone is only in the office two days a week you can prioritize accordingly. If you understand that a colleague’s work hours don’t intersect with yours, you will be able to adjust WHEN you send info – i.e. at the end of your day so they can work on it during their work day and have it back to you by the time you get back online the next morning.
How can I support your work?
Even if you aren’t seeing each other every day, or working physically side-by-side, collaboration and reciprocity still exists. Find out what you each can do for each other. Maybe they have specialized skills and experience you can learn from, maybe there are process tools they are really good at. What supports can you offer each other?
I hope that you will start to incorporate some of these questions as you move forward with your conversations and relationship building. What time are you earmarking for conversations this week?
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