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.
9/1/2016 07:14:11 am
Process is the most important thing for us. When we were co-located we could be quite lazy about things and they just seemed to happen organically. A good example is catching up over a coffee twice a week. Now we have to schedule weekly calls to make sure we check-in as well as get more formal around weekly reporting so that we know what everybody is working on
9/1/2016 09:19:24 am
Thanks for this Tom. Do you have any tips for how you structure your remote meetings to get full participation? Would be great to share your experience and insights with our community.
4/3/2017 12:11:14 pm
Great tips! I just finished teaching a 3-part Virtual Leadership series for Engineering team members of a fast-growing software company, so this is very fresh in my mind. I'd add: Find creative, and frequent, ways to show appreciation and recognition. Take time to celebrate achievements, even when physically apart. Prepare to spend even more 1:1 time with remote team members, since they're far less likely to run into you serendipitously. And - this is a big one - use synchronous meeting times for conversations that benefit all. Post content and review material somewhere to be read in advance, so that at least 80% of team meeting time is interactive vs. passive.
4/3/2017 01:26:05 pm
This is great Nancy! Clearly you have become an expert in remote teams and we are grateful that you are sharing your insights with our community. Thanks so much.
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