Developing Team Strategy in a Remote World
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
We were all sent home to work about a year ago, and although we have learned to adjust to this new normal, there have been some unintended consequences. One of those outcomes was that many people started functioning more like an individual employee versus as a team. While most workers find it easy to stay connected with bosses to discuss their job, those same people struggle to identify ways to work together with fellow employees. Working remotely does not have to mean doing it alone. Ask your team members the following 3 questions during your regular calls. The answers will help you keep track of what each person is focused on while building a better system of collaboration:
1. What have you recently worked on?
This question allows each person to provide a progress update. It can show how the deliverables for a particular large project are being completed and provides an opportunity to celebrate team accomplishments. These small wins also offer the chance to discuss how a project may have changed or adapted and any lessons learned from the experience.
2. What are you currently working on?
While this question is also a way to monitor progress, it also provides an opening for team members to synchronize tasks and forecast future work needs. Allow everyone to share what their focus is for the next day, week, or however long it is between now and the next call. This question also has the added benefit of making sure no one is duplicating efforts and spending time on the same tasks. This question will make it clear what tasks are finished and what work may need to be assigned to keep projects moving successfully forward.
3. Are there current work barriers where you need some help?
The third question makes sure your team avoids any unnecessary setbacks. This question allows individuals to put out a request for assistance to the whole team. Everyone gets stuck sometimes and in a remote work environment, most employees only share their obstacles with their manager. If everyone’s only communicating with a team leader, it is easy for the leader to lose track of who needs what and who else can help. This question gets the team talking to each other and provides space for them to ask for help, or to volunteer their assistance and expertise.
When you regularly include these questions on team calls, and your team gets familiar with answering them, co-workers will start to focus on each other. And this is what really drives a remote team to collaborate successfully.
To learn more about the future of remote work and how to lead your team from wherever you are, check Leading From Anywhere by David Burkus.