One of the greatest challenges in team work today is leading a remote or virtual team. Helping people feel connected when they may be working at opposite times of the day, and parts of the world, for the same project can seem daunting.
In my work as a team coach, consultant, and author, I love the work that I get to do with remote teams. It may be because I led remote teams most of my thirty-year career, or it may be that the notion of diversity energizes me. If you have met me more than fifteen years ago, you would have found me connecting with my team which was spread across ten countries, with more than fifteen nationalities represented.
What can we do to help our remote teams stay on the same page? Here are three things to think about:
#1 – Strengthen your team identity and culture. Our team identity and culture clarify WHO we are, and HOW we do things. The stronger our team culture is, the clearer we are about what is unique to us as a team, as well as what is acceptable and unacceptable. In a remote team, or virtual team, being focused on these areas can be important. They create clarity. They help us know what’s expected when we are part of one team. When you are part of a matrix structure (very common in the remote space) it’s critical that we are clear on how doing things on one project may vary from doing things on another project with another team.
Having a strong team culture can also repel or attract. It can help people feel “bigger than themselves” and feel a sense of connection or belonging. At the same time, it may signal to non-team members that this team is different.
What is your team identity?
#2 – Consistency. Consistency is important in today’s VUCA world. As I am going to share in a post tomorrow around VUCA and teams, being consistent with process and practices can also create stability in what can often be perceived as a turbulent business context.
If you have said that you are going to meet bi-weekly, make sure meetings happen. If you are expecting reports weekly, be sure to follow up.
What does consistency mean for your team? What can it look like?
#3 – Create regular connection points. What are the touch points team members have, both formally (through team meetings) and informally (through mentoring, peer partners and other ideas)? Consider as a team what “regular” means, and what the right frequency is. Again, connection points create a sense of belonging and team. If we say we are a team, but don’t ever connect, how do we know what people are doing?
Connection points can be digital (like Slack), virtual (like Zoom team meetings) and in-person (quarterly or annual get togethers for the team).
What is the best frequency for your team?
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