Geographically dispersed or remote teams have become increasingly common in today’s work environment. You can have operations in Minnesota, innovation in Italy and a factory in Japan which creates numerous challenges for team leaders. I have dealt with these situations on a regular basis throughout my career and have learned a few key practices to enable success.
When working with remote teams expectations on communications and interactions need to be established from the beginning of the relationship. If you fail to do this you will have breakdowns as soon as a meeting or conversation is completed. Additionally, there needs to be clear lines of accountability and everyone needs targets or metrics they are accountable for.
Regularly Scheduled Meetings
Meetings are not a waste of time. Well-run meetings are the moments of truth for you and your team. Having a regular meeting cadence with a set and consistent agenda keeps everyone focused on what is important week to week. Video conferencing and regular in-person visits are a must. Seeing people face to face not only sets the tone but gives people a sense of confidence.
When managing remote teams it is important to set guidelines around communications – How quickly responses need to occur to emails; how discussions are recapped; when do status or reports need to be communicated. If you don’t have good, open communication channels remote team members will feel as if they are on an island. Lastly, it’s important that everyone understands they have a responsibility to regularly connect with each other.
You have the create “water cooler moments”. Reaching out to remote employees just to see how their day is going or to give a personal kudos on something as little as responding to an email quickly goes a long way in building trust and comradery. Additionally, if you have an opportunity to create a virtual shared workspace via remote cameras, Skype, or other similar technologies provide for more spontaneous interactions.
Do you have any thought on managing remote teams? I would love to hear what has made you successful in working with a remote workforce. firstname.lastname@example.org