There are so many tools, strategies, and processes out there for remote teams to improve communications. Companies are scrambling to figure out what will work for them and their team. These tools and strategies are certainly important and needed for dispersed teams, but the role of leadership is far more important than any individual remote team idea or solution.
As a leader in your organization, it is up to you to set the example. It is the leader’s role to build the norms and define the values of the organization. This is why the most important aspect of any remote team communication strategy is defining how, as a leader, you will support any remote team communication initiatives.
As the leader of your team, department, or organization you are pulled in so many different directions. It is difficult to escape from the functional responsibilities of your role. This is why you should take a few minutes out of your daily routine to reflex on your team’s culture and communication to evaluate how you can make improvements. Here are a few ways to reinforce a strong culture of communication on a day to day basis for your remote team.
On a remote team, you can only see what is right in front of you on a screen.
You probably already think you are doing a great job of listening. There are various levels of listening from hearing something to being completely present. If you are truly listening then you are not just hearing the words, you are interpreting the meaning of what is being said. It is easy to discount or dismiss your team members because you do not completely understand their meaning.
2. Ask Questions
The simple act of asking an open-ended question (in a genuine way) does so many things. First, it shows the interest of course. Second, it helps you better understand the meaning of what is being said. Third, it builds rapport between you and the other individual in the conversation. Control the urge to spit out quick responses and take the time to dive deeper into the conversation. If you are asking rhetorical passive-aggressive questions then you are not a leader, you are a failed manager and likely have very unhappy team members.
3. Be Inclusive
Everyone has their favorites. Let’s not lie to ourselves, you like some people on your team more than others. Unfortunately, many managers use this hierarchy to make decisions on a daily basis. Many managers love how important certain team members make them feel and reward them with extra attention. You might think this is the right way to manage because you think that everyone should be proactive in making you feel important and if they are not, then they don’t care about being successful. Take the time to understand everyone’s needs on your team, you will uncover powerful new personalities and ideas.
4. Use Data
We are not all geniuses so use technology to better understand your work communication strategy. There is an overwhelming number of technologies focused on communication, management, and people. They are all generating data around engagement, activity, personalities, deliverables, skills etc. Evaluate the data to know where you can improve. Perhaps your team members are communicating too much, or not enough. Or maybe they are not successfully building strong bonds. Or maybe you have a large group of employees that are not engaged or participating. There are so many things that you can look at to improve your communication and values.
Leaders are there to lead. As a leader in your organization, your role is to reinforce the values and goals of the organization. You do that by motivating your team to excel beyond that of a group of individual contributors. In order for your team to reach that level of success, they need your feedback and ideas. They need you to look at both the organization as a whole and as well as individual contributors. Provide the feedback and ideas they need for guidance.
Now that you have let your team know how to get better, let them do it. Micromanagers create micromanagers which directly impedes the success of an organization. Let your team make mistakes and help them take learning away from those mistakes.
7. Stay Calm
Your team can sense when you are stressed because it directly impacts your ability to communicate. When you are not calm you stop listening, you stop asking good questions, your responses are shorter and you start looking over everyone’s shoulder. All of these behaviors will be mimicked which will in turn create a communication dead zone. When you have reached this extreme your team members will become more and more isolated. Directly impacting their communication, productivity, and loyalty.
8. Learn From Your Mistakes
You need to accept when you have failed or made a mistake. If you do not then you will never reflect on that mistake or fix it. Which will in turn create an endless cycle of anxiety, bad communication and toxic work culture.
All of the aspects of improved remote team communication can be applied to any environment. The difference is that with all of these techniques you are losing the ability to read all of the normal body language and social queues. If you do not consider the impact of your communication as a leader your bad habits will trickle through the organization without any way of identifying or fixing the problem. In an office, you can observe impromptu interactions and communication. On a remote team, you can only see what is right in front of you on a screen.
ChatFox is a Slack chatbot that builds remote teams and culture. Remote teams that only engage through projects, tasks, and deadlines do not foster a culture around shared values and goals. Build a strong remote team culture, improve remote team productivity, and eliminate team member isolation. Use ChatFox Icebreakers to build rapport with team members, use ChatFox Coffee Chats to have meaningful conversations with people across your organization, or use ChatFox Shout Outs to recommend a colleague and endorse their skills. Unlike other remote team solutions, ChatFox looks at remote team culture from a strategic perspective and has created engaging chats for your team that provide management with insights into remote team engagement, skills, contributions, and mobility.chatfoxCoffee Chatscommunicationicebreakersleadershipproductivityrecommemdationsremote teamsremote workingrewards