How well do you know your virtual teammates?
In the good ol’ days, when you worked together with others long enough, you got to know each other.
Who’s the team joker?
Who is the one whose still waters run deeper than expected?
Who would you go to with that question that’s driving you crazy?
But times have changed…
With teams co-located, it’s a bit different in terms of really forming relationships with one another.
This is more than a matter of social curiosity. Teams work best when everyone has an appreciation and respect for the strengths and abilities of the individual team members. We also use our knowledge about our teammates to form social bonds that build trust and make communication flow easier.
Since the day-to-day incidental (and accidental) interactions that occur when we all work together are scarcer than when we work separately, what can we, as leaders and teammates, do?
Truthfully, we have to manufacture opportunities for our folks to learn about each other.
There are lots of ways this can happen:
- Use behavioral style tools, like DISC and other work style analysis tools to help people identify their preferred work style, as well as those of their teammates. These assessments are designed to help increase understanding of others’ communication style, reducing miscommunication and increasing engagement and collaboration. (There are plenty of tools out there; if you’d like information on DISC analysis and how it can help your team, we’d be happy to help. Just click HERE.)
- During meetings share the spotlight, so that over time everyone gets to know a bit more about the people they rely on. Not only the obvious work-related information, but personal details that help people bond with each other.
- Let them see each other. We develop a lot of our emotional attachments to people visually. If you’re not using webcams on your teams, give it some thought. Visual connection enhances communication and makes it less awkward to reach out to people.
- Create opportunities to pair up on tasks or mentor each other. This not only helps give people a structured reason to work together, it might help clear your desk of things that have been piling up.
The sooner your team gets to know and work with each other, the more productive they’ll be. If you apply these concepts — not only to your existing team, but also to new team members — as part of their orientation, you’ll be surprised how quickly the team coalesces and gets productive.
You can always learn more about these best practices by checking out videos on Remote Leadership Institute.com, as well as visiting our website for more info about our Virtual Instructor Led courses (VILT).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wayne Turmel is the founder and president of GreatWebMeetings.com. For 20 years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology includingMeet Like You Mean It- a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com. Marshall Goldsmith calls him “one of the unique voices to listen to in the virtual workplace”. He works with organizations around the world to help people use technology to lead people and projects and build productive human connections in an increasingly remote work environment.
Thank you for sharing this Wayne.
When I first managed a remote team, I early discovered that it’s extra challenging.
Building culture was extremely hard as most of them are introverts. As a first time remote manager, my thinking was I have to always check on their work hours as I can’t supervise them physically – that was my mistake.
So learning from my mistake, focusing on deliverables is better approach rather than focusing on worked hours. I also had to check their resumes again, no, I didn’t reevaluated their experience or academical achievements but their hobbies and interests as I had to know the thing they might want to talk about with team and we can establish culture from there.
Great insight! Leading remote teams does have unique challenges…and that’s exactly why we created The Remote Leadership Institute. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help you out!