A lot was published in the past few weeks on how to manage remote employees effectively.
Still, here are two exercises that can create even more connections within your team.
The first one will help you know about your people's dispositions and how they like to work; the other one has to do with personal and team values.
Why is it relevant? Well because, sharing who you are, what's important to you, and how you work helps build connection and empathy, which then paves the way for trust.
Make sure that you create a sense of ease and friendliness with these activities.
Also, very important, this should start with you, the team leader. You need to communicate your answers first, then ask others to share as well.
1. Create a "How to work with me" manual
How well do you know each other? What are your trigger points? When are you more productive?
Here is how it works.
Have an initial team meeting where you'll explain that you want to create connections and understand each other even better.
There could be facets of your team members you still don't know, especially with this new remote setup.
As a manager and leader, start by sharing answers to the points below. Feel free to add your own.
Finish these sentences: • What I value most is… • The way to talk to me is… • What gives me enjoyment at work is… • What frustrates me most at work is… • How I prefer to deal with conflict is… • How I want to be informed when things don't go well is… • My strengths are… • My weaknesses are… • The best time to reach me while I'm working remotely is… • Don't disturb me when…
Be honest and transparent, then communicate them with your team.
Next, ask everyone to do the same exercise. It can be done in the same meeting, or you can give them a few days to complete it.
When you meet again, ask everyone to share a few essential points in small groups or in pairs.
Then, have one person in the group share with the whole team what they discovered about their partners. Something like: "What I didn't know about Julie is…." Or "The similarities that Chris and I have are…"
I client recounted how much they enjoyed discovering the peculiarities of their teammates.
Later, facilitate a conversation and ask questions as follow up like:
How will this help you interact with each other at work?
What will you do differently now that you know this?
What is one thing that you'll stop doing?
What is one thing that you'll start doing?
If you can, collect all the responses and create an internal document or webpage that people can easily access. If possible, make it available to other departments.
Imagine needing to have a conversation with someone you don't know yet and first learning about them on these pages. It could help you prepare for that interaction.
2. Discover and practice personal and team values
Using Brené Brown's words: "We can't live into values that we can't name AND, living into values requires moving from lofty aspirations to specific, observable behaviors."
Like the first activity, share your personal and team values, then put them into practice.
Ask your team to go through a list of values individually. (Click here if you want to use the Brené Brown list of values
Then collect everyone's values, tally the results, and communicate them to the team.
Have a conversation around the top values and what they represent for them.
Ask to prioritize the values from 1 to 5 and make each value actionable by adding a few words like:
Transparency: Feeling ok opening up to others about our struggles and asking for help
Integrity: Showing up with integrity towards our customers and treat everyone with kindness
Loyalty: Ensuring that we are loyal to each other and support our team in times of difficulty
Now facilitate a conversation about how they are going to honor these values: • What would be a positive outcome of applying these values consistently? • What could happen if we fail to apply them? • When could it be challenging to apply them? • How can we be more conscious and anticipate that? • Who could be affected in a positive or negative way? • What will you do to remind yourself and others of these values? You can then come up with a poster or sheet with the core values so that everyone can keep those commitments alive and hold each other accountable.
Remove doubts, build trust
As you go through these activities, what you are doing is removing doubts and build trust. And if you still have areas of uncertainty with another person, ask for clarification.
You should feel ok to call them up and say: "Hi Mary, I've got a story I'm running in my mind that goes like this... Please, correct me if I'm wrong…"
Make sure you clear anything that might affect your productivity and mindset. Don't wait too long. You need to address it right away. The goal with all this is to continue establishing trust.
Teams can't function without trust, so anything you can do to build rapport, will make it easier for you to manage your team and for everyone to work successfully, in-office, or remotely.
Roberto Giannicola - Coach & Facilitator - www.giannicola.com