Emotional Bonds With Remote Teams
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.
We want to hear. What are your best practices for keeping remote teams functioning smoothly? If you are part of a remote team, what do you wish could be improved? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
The Minefield of Miscommunication
Do you think you're more likely to have a misunderstanding or miscommunication with a close friend or partner or with a perfect stranger? If you’re like most of us, you probably assume you communicate most clearly with those closest to you. But that is often not the case.
Kenneth Savitsky of Williams College recently conducted an experiment that found people greatly overestimate the degree to which they imagine they are on the same page as close friends and partners.
As described on NPR, Savitsky and colleagues brought a group of couples into their lab: Some were married; some were strangers. People invariably predicted there would be less miscommunication with partners. In reality, people understood strangers about the same. But they anticipated they would have significantly better communication with those close to them—so there's actually a greater risk in communicating with loved ones because we assume we're going to understand what they mean and what they want. When it comes to strangers, we're much more likely to put effort into understanding what's happening in another person's mind.
The lesson: Even if you know someone really well, it is dangerous to ever make assumptions about what that person is thinking, feeling or wanting. So when in doubt – ask!
We want to hear. Have you ever gotten into a sticky situation by misreading what someone close to you has said? What would you do differently? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Service and Satisfaction
There is much research showing that jobs perceived as helpful to others yield greater satisfaction and less stress. For example, in 2014 two researchers published an article in the Journal of Positive Psychology examining the lives of lawyers, and found that attorneys in high-income fields like corporate law, tort, and malpractice were unhappier and less satisfied than their lower-paid counterparts in service roles such as public prosecutors or legal defenders.
Perhaps you don’t think your job is especially helpful to others, but Arthur C. Brooks president of the American Enterprise Institute, suggests you rethink your attitude. Writing in The New York Times, Brooks says that “almost any work can be understood as a service job.” He illustrates the point with the parable of a traveler who happened upon two stonemasons. When he asked the workers what they were doing, one replied, “I am making a living.” But the other mason said: “I am building a cathedral.”
Brooks maintains that in our interconnected world, all work has an impact on the lives of others, and that “everyone, in every industry, affects the lives of co-workers, supervisors, customers, suppliers, donors or investors.” We endorse his suggestion of spending part of our morning commute considering how to improve the lives of others through our work, whatever it may be.
We want to hear. How does your work benefit others, and does considering its impact have a positive effect on you? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Smart Workers Seek Advice
Are you reluctant to seek out advice for fear that doing so will make you seem incapable? In fact, people who ask for advice in academic and work settings are perceived as smarter and more competent than those who do not, according to a recent paper by Alison Wood Brooks and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School, and Maurice E. Schweitzer of Wharton.
“Information sharing is very important in organizations,” said Professor Brooks in The New York Times.“If everyone sat in their separate silos and never interacted with each other, they wouldn’t learn anything from each other. By not seeking advice, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to learn from your co-workers.”
Researchers came to this conclusion by analyzing the responses of working adults and college students who were asked to give their impressions of people (a computer-simulated partner, in this case) who sought their advice on various written tasks and tests.
In another upside to advice-seeking, those who are asked for advice feel recognized. So by asking for input you may not only gain wisdom but also forge a stronger relationship with a potential mentor and colleague.
We want to hear. When was the last time you asked for advice? What do you feel you gained? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.