Engaged teams are more cost-effective, more productive, more collaborative, more resilient…the list goes on. Without quoting any specific research or papers on the subject, we have all heard about the difference it makes to an organization to have engaged teams. Engaged employees are aware of what’s going on in their organization, where they stand in the big picture, and how they matter. In return of this awareness, engaged employees want to contribute to what the company is doing and achieving its goals, which leads to organizational success. Whether you’re working with a local or remote teams, employee engagement is essential to retaining staff and having them get the job done effectively.
Just like your onsite employees, your remote team needs a clear engagement plan to achieve success. The teams’ manager must set expectations for them and provide an environment that invites the remote employees to be active participants. The plan should include communication, collaboration and purposive connections between people that will create a sense of community within the team. It’s important to find ways to connect one on one, and as a team – whether it’s the supervisor and the employee, or just colleagues, HR managers should make a concerted effort to develop a strong team, and from there, half of the engagement battle has been done. Employees need to know they matter, to know their opinions count and what they do means something, as a person and as a contributor.
The successful manager of a remote team, just like any other manager, knows what they are asking of each team member, and knows when to ask if they need a hand. Set expectations and ensure everyone has the resources they need to do their work. Encourage team members to work together, to rely on one another and to keep one another informed as necessary. Remote teams need to develop relationships with one another, precisely because they may never meet face to face.
Personalized communication brings people closer, bridging time zones and geographic distance from one another. Plan regular meetings with the team, one-on-one and as a group. Using email or chat functionality, touch base to find out how everyone’s doing. Provide opportunities for your remote team to reveal individual attitudes, character, personality, humour and humanity. As much as possible consciously chose to use pleasant greetings, small talk and emoticons to convey tone, gratitude or gravity. In the ‘down’ times, at the start of a call while waiting for everybody to dial in, start up conversation – it can be work-related or something outside of the business realm.
Employee engagement with remote teams is not much different from engagement generally:
Value your teams
Learn about one another
Share and build trust
Bond over your shared purpose
Set the example
Keep your word
Trust your team
Reward good work
Say thank you
Share results – because everyone in the organization should know what the goals are and if they’re being met, and if they’re not, commit to finding out why not.
Value your teams Learn about one another Share and build trust Bond over your shared purpose Set the example Keep your word Trust your team Reward good work Encourage development Say thank you Share results – because everyone in the organization should know what the goals are and if they’re being met, and if they’re not, commit to finding out why not.
You may need to get a little creative when working with a remote team but that’s half the fun. Set up mini-challenges for the team, share a tame and topical joke, circulate an article, or plan a virtual event to celebrate a milestone or holiday. Foster enthusiasm about what you do, for the people at all levels of the organization, for the projects that are happening, for the returns that are being made and for the goals that are being achieved.