Have you ever talked to a consultant in one of the larger global firms? I still find it fascinating how different people from all over the world come together to create a machine which solves the most complex problems for their clients. These people are so used to bringing talent together from all over the world aren’t phased at all from different time zones or never “meeting” the people they’re working with. They know that everyone has strengths to offer and focus on the goals that need to be achieved.
But even with the best of intentions, working with remote teams, especially with “less-mature” workforces such as many in frontier markets can cause projects to collapse flat with failure. Below are the strategies I’ve found that more or less eliminate the challenges of remote teams so that everyone can focus on simply working.
There’s a reason why introverts have a hard time working remotely – they’re not a fan of communicating. And this is the key to success for managing remote teams. Remember the good old saying “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”? It’s true. Silos of individuals who are in the same office or location will start working strongly together and naturally forget about those who aren’t with them. Unless, everyone is communicating. Be it emails, phone calls, conference calls, WhatsApp chats – anything that gets everyone to touch base.
Once you communicate, you have to keep track of it all. And what I’ve learned is that there’s no wrong or right about how you document. You could be having weekly status reports or monthly planning calendars. Maybe simple to-do lists with deadlines work for you. If you’ve got more complicated projects then of course you should consider the benefits of project management software such as Asana or Slack.
3. Recognize Personalities
Okay so this is a tricky one because it’s challenging enough when you’re in the same office as someone and even more hard when you aren’t. Recognizing personalities and understanding what makes people tick and what sets them off the wrong path is critical for remote teams. Take for example someone who needs constant guidance to get tasks done. You’ll need to communicate with them even more than other team members. Then consider someone with a short fuse – if you end up having a head on collision with them at their night, it’ll be a while before you can smooth things over with them. Thus, you have to recognize personalities and be extra careful when they’re part of remote teams.
4. Establish Relationships
There’s a fine line about how personal to get with someone at work. On one hand, knowing what’s going on in your team member’s personal lives will give you a better idea of what helps them have a good day at work. On the other hand, you’ll have to make sure that well-meaning questions aren’t taken as being too nosy – especially if you’re a remote team. But, I personally feel that knowing how your people are really doing helps you develop a professional bond that will see you through tough times that are guaranteed to arise.
It’s a fun world out there and remote teams are one way to buff up your team’s skills. Just have yourself armed with the knowledge to handle the challenges that will come your way. The way I see it, there will be challenges – whether your teams are in the same office or spread out. So why not take the latter route and get the best people possible from all around the world?
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