Managing a remote team comes with intricacies that a lot of leaders were not prepared to handle. The camaraderie that was built by the watercooler, team lunches and simply saying goodbye at the end of the day have been replaced by a long to do list and everyone pulling together to move initiatives forward. The soft skills of leadership are taking an all new focus as leaders start to realize that people need human connection for job satisfaction and frankly Zoom isn’t the solution.
So how do you develop an even stronger relationship when you can’t be together in person? Here are five tips I used while managing an all-remote global team and have redeployed since my team went remote during the pandemic.
Institute daily check-ins
People need human interaction every day, not a few times a week. While we may think our endless meetings will fill the cup, in actuality, we need a different type of connection to feel fulfilled. Our team meets every day for a minimum of 15 minutes to go through project statuses and to identify any roadblocks. But the important piece isn’t the 15 minutes of project statuses, it’s the 5 minutes of chatting at the beginning and sometimes 15 minutes of chatting at the end that drives connection.
Schedule weekly or bi-weekly one-on-ones
It’s important to connect with everyone on an individual basis. These meetings should have no agenda and be simply to catch up and chat about whatever comes up. It’s natural that part of the agenda will include work, but challenge yourself to ensure that the largest part of the discussion is about how the team member is feeling, how life is outside of work, what they’re interested in and what hobbies they are passionate about. And share what’s happening in your life too. Team members trust leaders who are human too, so be human in your connection and share authentically about what’s going on in your life at whatever level you feel comfortable.
Video on all the time
Our company has gone to all video meetings to ensure we get to “see” people every day. It’s amazing how much impact seeing someone’s face can have on your day and your job satisfaction. Or even better, seeing their smile. The lockdown has impacted everyone and the desire to connect is at an all time high. I’m even starting to get messages from my introverted friends wanting to connect, which I consider a big sign that we’re all starting to feel the impact of isolation. Turn on the video and let people know you don’t care they look or what their background is, you’d like to see their face.
Schedule time for fun
If we want to connect with our teams, we need to set aside some time for fun. And let’s be honest; we’re done with the mass amount of happy hours and events taking up our personal time. Instead, we schedule 30 minutes every two weeks for a team dance party. We simply stop, congratulate ourselves for our accomplishments over the last two weeks and then we dance it out. Sometimes we’re dancing out a little frustration and sometimes we’re dancing with joy, but no matter what, we dance. You can schedule time to dance, time to play a game or some other thing that your team enjoys, but do it frequently and schedule it during the work day.
Say thank you
Our teams are really pulling a tremendous amount of weight for our companies right now and it’s incredibly important to stop and say thank you. I utilize the five love languages methodology to figure out how it’s best to say thank you for our team. The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. We all have a primary and secondary love language. I mentioned how I utilize quality time to say thank you previously. We have sent gift cards, branded hats and set up a charitable donation with the Salvation Army as ways to show our appreciation. I’ve also dove in on projects as an act of service when team members were feeling overwhelmed and given out awards to team members.
Managing an all-remote team is different than managing an in-person team, but with these tips you can turn this into an opportunity to develop even stronger relationships than you had before. And the stronger your relationships are the better your employee morale and performance will be.