As part of the manager training and coaching remote teams, I received a question by e-mail: “I work regularly elsewhere than in my team. How do I maintain communication with my staff and ensure that no one feels isolated? “
- As much as possible, take time regularly to “physically” talk with everyone. If your team members work in different locations, you can alternate locations, for example, so that the person working from the house is the host (s) of the meeting. This type of meeting must above all oxygenate the collaboration and palliate the feeling of isolation. The person will thus have a perspective and will feel less isolated in the short term.
At this meeting, try to avoid browsing through the tasks to be performed, and discuss the following points in particular:
How do team members feel?
What barriers do they face?
What experiences do they experience?
To what extent are they still motivated?
What are the pitfalls of distance work? Let them share their conclusive experiences and concerns.
What support can you (and others) provide them with?
What means are lacking, according to them?
What added value can you give them and what do they represent for each other?
What can be improved?
What is missing for an excellent result and an optimal collaboration?
What are the commitments to be made for this?
Are there any other topics that they would like to talk to you about?
- Use “remote collaboration tools” such as instant messaging software to recreate the atmosphere of the coffee break between your collaborators and establish agreements: why, when, how and for how long do we use this type Channel? This channel and the information shared therein must above all remain informal. Do not impose anything, let things happen spontaneously.
Other collaborative tools for teams working remotely can be advocated, like ezTalks Meetings. It’s a professional video conferencing solution that enables you to communicate and host online meetings in high-definition video and audio in real time no matter where you are. What makes you and your remote team members satisfied is that it offers many useful features, like easy screen sharing, white boarding, instant messaging, meeting scheduling, meeting recording, meeting control and more. The Manager training and coaching remote teams will teach you more about this.
- Set individual objectives for each member of the team while giving priority to the team’s objectives, in order to generate more exchanges, sharing, consultation, cohesion, commitments … among themselves. This will foster team spirit, knowledge sharing and the dispersion of feelings of isolation. So you will kill three birds with one stone!
Also bear in mind that a manager cannot always cut himself / herself. By guiding your team to achieve its goals, you will delegate to the entire team. You can personally supervise remotely and intervene at the appropriate times.
- Involve people. Create a network with other managers to support your remote teams wherever you are. This is of course only possible for colleagues who work in other company offices. Check when your supervisors are present at your team’s workplace, and ask them to make more contacts with your employees and encourage them.
- Publish for your team and ensure its visibility, for example, by having an article published about it in the staff journal or by letting it contribute to an internal social media channel. You will create an implication and a link with the rest of the company.
- Give your team a score for skills “taking freedom” and “needing social contacts”. Conduct a risk analysis in advance to proactively identify those who are at greater risk. Also ask your employees to rate their skills. You will be able to compare and check if you perceive things in the same way. It is also a good start for a thorough individual interview with each member of the team.
Your employees must also have 10 other skills to be able to work well from a distance. You will discover them by following the training manager and coaching remote teams.
- Plan individual telephone or video conference interviews in your diary. Do not forget anyone. Determine the frequency yourself, but according to their needs. No news is not always synonymous with good news!
Know that during these phone contacts, you will have to play more your emotional intelligence. It is important to listen carefully, to interrogate, to probe, to test, to repeat and to summarize … Avoid the inquisitive style with questions such as “Where are you?” or “What do you do”.
- Be alert to abrupt behavioral changes. Be sure to observe carefully to be able to quickly identify any changes in the following items:
Results: frequent forgetfulness, recurring errors, lack of precision, sloppy work.
Implication: illness, last minute leave, absence during teleconferences and team meetings, late arrival or early departure, refusal to stay for a drink …
Attitude of flight or postponement: the collaborator is hardly reachable, his line is always busy, he does not have time to devote yourself to a face to face interview …
Reaction time: it takes time to respond to your messages
If you notice one or more of these changes, react quickly, preferably by offering an individual interview to try to identify the causes.