What’s the difference between a high-functioning remote team and one whose performance is below average? The under performing team may feel out of step with corporate culture. Tsedal Neeley, associate professor at Harvard Business School, has focused on this subject for over 15 years. Talking with Inc. magazine, he shared a framework to help leaders manage long-distance employee relationships. The framework is called SPLIT: structure, process, language, identity, and technology. In brief:
Structure: Emphasize that the team is a single entity with common goals, regardless of locales. Make frequent contact.
Process: Give frequent feedback. Factor in time for small talk in call-in meetings. Solicit team members’ views, beginning with those with the lowest status in the group.
Language: To minimize international language gaps, reduce the use of idioms and cultural references (e.g. baseball analogies). Make sure less fluent speakers are contributing.
Identity: Don’t leap to conclusions about what someone else’s body language or behavior might mean. Allow for cultural differences.
Technology: Before picking a means of communication, ask yourself: “Is it urgent, or can it wait?” If your message recipient is across multiple time zones, email might be more appropriate than phone calls or Skype.
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