Remote working is currently the norm for most teams, however even when not in the middle of a health crisis and “safer at Home” orders, remote teams are common and a part of the trend of businesses.
Remote working creates many win/win situations and while there can be a lot of positive aspects, leading a remote team can be challenging and requires some intentional planning to create cohesion
- How are you? – We typically start a meeting with small talk and chit chat that has some level of “How you doin’?” being asked. I suggest taking that to a deeper more intentional way when beginning a meeting. I find that every person sharing a “One Word” how are you “FEELING” right now grounds everyone and starts the meeting with a sense of everyone seeing their teammates as human. A leader should model vulnerability when starting with their one word to encourage people to really share how they are doing right now. This exercise may begin a bit awkwardly but as your team gets used to doing it, you will see people really stop and think about how they are feeling. Words will go from “great” to “emotional”, “grateful”, “worried”, “overwhelmed”. This type of sharing will begin to create some vulnerability-based trust among your team members.
- Best Personal/Professional – The next thing we share as a team is each person’s best accomplishment or best thing that happened/is going on both personally and professionally for them since the last meeting (in the last week, month, quarter, etc.). This is a great way for team members to connect and find out what is going on with their teammates as well to switch everyone’s mindsets. We do not want valuable meeting time to be unproductive because people are half engaged and still thinking about all they need to do, etc. We want meetings where people bring their whole head, heart, & hands and are ready to bring solutions and ideas to the table. By simply asking people to stop where they are doing and really brainstorm some positive stuff happening, will allow them to be in a positive space as well as have their brain focused in the company, the team, & the meeting.
- What you do matters – Every human wants to feel like what they do everyday matters to their team and what the company does has a positive impact somewhere. This provides people with a feeling of significance and fulfillment. A remote team is made up pf people who still need to feel like they are a part of something. When people work in the same location they are often given “accidental” opportunities to see how what they do matters. Every virtual or in face meeting of your remote team should include a “check in” of how something that was accomplished by the team or an individual on a team made an impact. Each person on the team could be charged with submitting a story of when they could not have done their job without the help of a teammate or the team leader could look for stories of when how the company made a difference or how the team contributed to a big “win” for the company. This will boost the team morale and make people see how every person plays a vital part in the success.
- Begin with Success in mind – Remember that every team member is different and as we learn in DiSC training sessions, each of us prioritizes things and communicates differently. If you plan each meeting considering everyone’s perspective your meetings will be richer and have more engagement. Consider some simple process updates when planning meetings to insure you are giving everyone the ability to be their best;
- The D style – are outgoing, focused on results and want to get things done. Remember to help people get to the point and explain what the results of any idea will be.
- The I style – They bring enthusiasm and energy. Remember to not come to them or respond with all “negative” or problems as this will shut down their creative energy.
- The S Style – These are the stable collaborators, but they do not want to cause waves and you may need to push them to share their opinions. Remind them of how valuable their insights on how decisions affect others is.
- The C Style – These conscientious folks are the greatest assets in creating processes & systems, but they need time to research and get it right. The best tip is to make sure to send out agendas and areas where you will need people to contribute ideas in advance of the meeting. This will give these people a chance to review and analyze what they are going to bring to the meeting.
- Same Page Session– Be sure to leave plenty of time for clarity and commitment at the end of each meeting. Any meeting has the potential for people to leave feeling unsure of what was decided or what is required of them. This is especially true when having virtual meeting. Do you end up leaving meetings thinking everyone is on the same page only to talk about the same issue again at the next meeting? This could be because you did not have a same page segment at the end of your meeting. This is 15 or so minutes that is used to get everyone very clear on exactly what was decided, who is doing what, and when it is due. This simple process will create so much productivity and have everyone leaving the meeting feeling like they are “in the know”.
- Bonus – I know I said FIVE THINGS, but this is a bonus and a shameless plug. Now is a great time to book a virtual workshop with me on DiSC, Agile EQ, Productive Conflict, or Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team!
It is a bit of work, but creating a cohesive team has so many benefits. A team that is focused on collective results and is engaged is so much fun to be a part of and makes a big impact on the company’s success, goals & bottom line! Productive and engaging virtual meetings is a great first step in having a remote team that is connected and wants to do their best.