Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting to know your team, part of Managing Virtual Teams (2014).
Let's say you're hosting a dinner party for a friend who really needs to impress a group of people. What would you do? I would suggest that you try to understand who the guests are. If you find out they're all vegetarians, you probably wouldn't try to dazzle them with a pork roast and a 20-pound turkey. This is exactly what you can do as a manager of a remote team. Figure out who they are, which in turn will guide you in what you need to do to support them and you can do this by communicating, building trust, and understanding goals.
First, let's talk about communicating, especially since you don't have the luxury of face-to-face chats when you manage a remote team. Here are a few tips. First, get curious. Ask your employees what their favorite foods or hobbies are. This shows you are interested in more than just business which can often provide insights into your employees. These insights can help you in deciding what work to assign to them and how to assign it. Second, be a listener.
Repeating and paraphrasing answers to your questions shows you were listening. When a person feels heard, that often means they feel understood. This understanding typically makes for more effective communication. Lastly, use anytime meetings. This is a remote team's version of an open door policy. Using email, text messages, or cell phones, allow your team to contact you spontaneously. I not only suggest you use this as the manager, but also encourage your employees to use this with each other.
Now let's talk about building trust. Managing people means creating relationships and trust is a big part of that. Here are a few tips to help build lasting trust. First, reinforce the idea of team. You win together and you lose together. It can help the trust factor if, instead of bragging or finger pointing, you support team-wide encouragement and problem solving. Support the notion that no one person makes or breaks a team.
Second, engage in integrity checks. These are self evaluations where you ask am I acting in alignment with my words? If your team sees you holding yourself to appropriate and consistent standards, your employees are likely to emulate that and manage themselves. Lastly, give recognition. This is a simple notion with a big impact. You could start small by celebrating birthdays. This can show that you both care about and appreciate your employees which can impact your team's productivity.
Finally, let's talk about understanding goals. Here I mean both the personal and professional goals of your team members. Here's the approach I use. Step one, create a goal-supportive partnership. Find out what goals your employees have and how you can help achieve them. Sometimes a great way to do this is to provide opportunities for training and development or craft assignments that address their goals. Step two is to be the bridge.
Goals are typically an effective gateway to a deeper understanding of what makes your employees tick. If you understand an employee's goal, you might just understand that employee better and have a greater appreciation for who they are as people as well as employees. This appreciation can be the gateway or the bridge to more productive and positive relationships with your remote team.
Discover how to build rapport, set mutual expectations, communicate, connect, overcome conflict, get work done, and grow the team. Also included is a look at the top five challenges managers face in leading remote teams and helpful solutions that will get your team on track.
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- Summarize the characteristics of the three “back to basics” areas of managing a remote team.
- Explain the steps taken to create positive relationships with a new team.
- Recall the purpose of integrity checks.
- Identify the characteristics of four types of management styles.
- Recognize the purpose of reviewing the lessons learned with a remote team.
- Determine the best action to take in order to enhance a remote team member’s sense of ownership and willingness to focus on performance.