Many leaders on remote teams are beginning to face challenges in the way we are interacting. Although we are turning out our deliverables in a reasonably successful way, we are having a more difficult time bonding with each other. Zoom calls are a great way to update each other on projects and can even serve as a time to strategize about decisions. Yet there is definitely something missing from these constant remote calls that occupy hours of our day.
Are you having trouble jumping into conversations during remote team meetings?
Is it frustrating to feel that no one is responding to questions you may be posing, even when you are leading the discussion?
Is your patience wearing thin with listening to team members drone on endlessly?
Are you tired of colleagues or bosses coming unprepared to the call resulting in backtracking and explanations?
You’re not alone if you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions. During these past few months many teams were thrown into total remote working . They never got a chance to learn how to both connect professionally and personally with each other. After all, if we can’t see each other in the way we use to, we may be feeling disconnected from the rest of our team members.
Here are five strategies to build an interconnected remote team:
1. Set Up Ground Rules
In a non-profit I am working with, the first action we are taking is to decide with the team how they want to interact with each other. This first step is so crucial to establishing buy-in from all the members. Leaders who forget or ignore creating basic ground rules will undoubtedly end up running interference continually. So what might these rules look like?
- When one team member is speaking, we will listen without interrupting. We will listen to understand the entire message.
- We will stay with one topic at a time and if someone offers a different, but important idea, we will put it on a parking lot to discuss at a later date.
- We will stay openminded to different perspectives.
- Each person will come prepared to a call with a willingness to actively participate.
- Team members will hold themselves accountable for their actions and decisions.
2. Create A Safe Space
To perform at their highest levels team members need to feel psychological safety during a remote meeting. That means there needs to be a great deal of trust among each person. People need to feel secure enough to admit they made a mistake and own their misstep. Members need to sense that they can share ideas that others may not agree with but ones which they think will lead the team forward. In addition, there needs to be authentic feedback offered with respect. Clear, open and direct communication is essential that respects the other person’s point of view. Without these commitments, there will never be greatness.
To build an interconnected remote team, members need to stay openminded to different perspectives.
3. Include Both Introverts and Extroverts
To encourage participation from everyone on a team, leaders need to reach out to both people who have a more difficult time sharing their thoughts as well as those who feel more comfortable speaking. Both introverts and extroverts have important suggestions and ideas to offer. Here’s what I have found to be helpful while facilitating a meeting:
- Remind the team of your timeframe and that each member must be respectful of the time.
- If an extrovert begins to dominate the discussion, jump in, thank them for their great ideas and explain that there are others who need to have a turn to speak.
- If possible, take time ahead of the remote call to meet with the introvert to help them get their ideas together to present. This will give them confidence.
4. Come Prepared
The best team Zoom calls are ones where each member comes prepared with what they are going to share. Reward preparedness by giving people credit on being highly ready for the meeting.
5. Leave With Goals
Before finishing up a remote call, be clear on what each team member needs to do. This step can derail even the best meetings. Some strategies that can pull the call together are:
- Leave time for a wrap-up.
- Summarize the main decisions made by the team.
- Make sure everyone is clear on their follow-up plans and timeframes.
- Thank team members for their hard work and contributions. Being remote, this is so critical to everyone feeling like they belong and are valued. This step pays in dividends for connectedness.
What additional strategies have helped you build an interconnected remote team?