By August 28, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Getting Your Remote Team To Work Together

Getting Your Remote Team To Work Together

Managing staff is challenging enough, but when they are remotely located, whether in another city or working from home through an alternate working arrangement, it’s even harder.

There are a number of things you can do to manage better with a remote team. It does take some effort, but it can pay off.

Touching Bases

Your staff who are in the same office as you, they may think they see too much of you, but for remote staff, they probably don’t hear from you enough. While there is a careful balance, you need to set a time to talk to each one of your remote staff, say ½ hour each every Monday morning, with follow-up discussions if more time is needed for specific issues. The regular discussion should partly for status, but it’s an opportunity for you to probe them about their activities and provide support for issues they raise.

You can also do a group conference or video call on a periodic basis, such as monthly and do a round-table. You would do this if your staff wre located in the same office or town as you, so do it for a remote team as well – it’s almost more important.

Force Interaction

Even when people are working in the same office, they sometimes don’t really interact with each other to discuss issues, find solutions and tap into each others strengths. In part, it’s a result of the dis-incentive most organizations put in place to truly collaborate and the natural hesitation to raise a problem and ask for help. But it’s also because everyone is so busy with their own individual issues and problems, they don’t typically make the effort to talk or consult with their colleagues.

The easiest solution is to assign a project to each team member that forces them to interact with their colleagues. As a manager, you should know what your staff’s interests and strengths are, so find a project that each individual wants to do and will do a good job with. Don’t simply assign a project to them, particularly if it’s a above and beyond their responsibility - you want them to have some passion about the project.

Design the project so whoever is taking care of it has to consult with their colleagues. Then regularly test to ensure they have been working together. Pretty soon, they will be more familiar and comfortable with each other and will be more likely to discuss issues. But you can help that along too. When one of your staff raises an issue, don’t jump to solve it for them. Think about who else on the team may have come across that issue already and suggest that they be consulted first. You can’t force people to interact, but you can facilitate it.

Share Information

When someone is working remotely, they can often become disconnected from the organization and their own department. Whenever you speak with them, be sure to spend some time talking about what is happening in the organization so they feel more connected. Pass along information or emails you can share, then discuss them with the individual, getting their thoughts and feedback.

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

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