Managing teams when team members are closely in touch with you and with each other can be difficult at times. Managing teams of people who work remotely from each other and from you can be even more complicated, and very different. Whether or not people are separated by location, shift working, time zones, home working, region or country these things can create an entirely different team dynamic, and very different interactions between the individuals in the team and you as team leader.
Typically factors that are affected are:
- Face to face communication (we know how important non-verbal signals are to the understanding of messages)
- Responsiveness and reactivity
- Synergy, 1+1 = >2
- Trust and inter-dependence
- Co-operation and consistency
- Feedback quality and quantity
- Direction and clarity
- Change management.
So what can we do to help people in these remote teams to work most effectively together?
- Be careful to recruit experienced, independent and flexible people who will not be so reliant on face to face, continued communication and reinforcement.
- Work to set their and your own expectations realistically about what is and what is not likely to happen.
- Set your targets and expectations based on outputs rather than on inputs or ways of working that you cannot easily observe and monitor.
- Be conscious of time differences and their impact and sensitivity of key announcements.
- Make use of IT systems technology to aid communication, confirm and back up verbal agreements in writing.
- Seek feedback from the team members on a continual basis about how the team is working in areas that are important to them and critical to your business.
- Bring the team together, face to face, whenever feasible and make good use of these opportunities to build relationships at these events.
If you are doing most or all of these things then there is a good chance that you will minimise the impact of remote team working – but remember it is never quite the same as the real thing! From a training perspective, our clients report that staff value the opportunity to get together for face to face training and that our online leadership and management training also provides a welcome opportunity for staff to interact with people who they do not see regularly because of hybrid or remote working. Visit our Training Courses page to see the wide variety of in house face to face and online training courses we offer.
Our Leading Remote Teams Course provides managers with some key skills to ensure they lead their remote teams effectively.