Join Bob McGannon for an in-depth discussion in this video Increasing team engagement, part of Managing Virtual Teams.
Picture yourself at a baseball game with a packed stadium. Now, imagine if that crowd of 1,000s stayed silent. Bored and disengaged for all nine innings. Not only would that be weird, but I doubt you'd buy a ticket and go to another game. Luckily, that's not the case. In large part because you're kept engaged throughout the entire experience in several ways. An excellent level of play, music and trivia between innings, team gear sales, etcetera.
This is something you can do with your remote team. I'll introduce three ways that can make engaging your employees easier. An increase in engagement could lead to an increase in productivity. First, listening can be a critical component. Those guys roaming the stadium selling hot dogs and soda wouldn't make any money if they weren't listening to the fans. Here are two things you could do to help setup better listening. First, instead of asking, "Is that all?" when someone finishes speaking, consider asking, "What else?" Open-ended questions typically encourage more conversation and can show you are interested and listening to what is being said.
Second, do not interrupt. When someone is talking, do what you can to give them the floor entirely and simply listen. Try not to talk over them or cut them off before they have finished. This second recommendation is acknowledgement. You should seek to acknowledge the contribution, the effort, and the results of all your employees with particular care to ensure your remote employees recognize the acknowledgement. It's easy to forget that you're remote staff cannot see the nodding and smile on your face during a conference call.
In addition to not interrupting, here are other ways of acknowledging your employees. Acknowledge what was said. This is any action that shows you've heard a comment, question, or input. To do this, you could use a conversation parking lot. A list of things viewable by the team that can be addressed at some point. Doing this during each conversation can help your employees feel like they're adding value. This is especially important for your remote team members. Second, acknowledge a person for specific knowledge or point of view that was contributing in the conversation.
This is another form of recognition of a behavior or result. It can be a good way to increase engagement mainly because we tend to do more of something if it is recognized. Lastly, acknowledge a situation. Basically, talk about the reality surrounding your employees, both good and bad. This can be anything from asking how your Boston employee is doing after the Red Sox won the pennant to checking in on your team after a not-so-pleasant call with a client.
Lastly, now that you've listened and acknowledged, you can confirm. This can be relatively simple. Like our hot dog guy repeating an order to a fan. "That was two dogs, mustard and ketchup, right?" Confirming can do two things. It can help ensure everyone is on the same page as sharing a common understanding can support engagement. Think about how important this is. How many times have you checked out in a conference call because you didn't understand something? Secondly, confirming can also help build trust.
If your employees know that you understand them, that can increase their ability to trust you. Often times, trust can be something that builds a strong foundation for employee engagement. Engaging your employees can mean that you have a team of active and productive individuals. And just like the fans at that baseball game, that experience can keep your remote and local team members coming back for more.
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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