The philosophy behind effective collaboration and team performance doesn’t change just because you’re working remotely, but there are inevitably nuanced challenges that come with disparate workforces.
For managers and leaders who haven’t mastered developing productive teams in person, doing so remotely has likely proven to be challenging. Remote and hybrid teams are unique in that they challenge one other element of productivity that can be taken for granted by onsite teams: visibility into all aspects that influence a shared project.
Fortunately, there are tools and processes that you can incorporate into your organization to offer better visibility into projects and increase productivity — and here are five ways to start.
5 Ways to Offer Better Visibility for Remote and Hybrid Teams
- Lay out expectations then give people autonomy to produce results.
- Introduce a framework that fosters accountability and transparency.
- Eliminate the “smartest person in the room” dynamic by democratizing data.
- Create purpose for every individual team member.
- Keep everyone in the know.
1. Lay Out Expectations Then Give People Autonomy to Produce Results
In a company or team environment, one of the most important contributors to performance is setting goals — but not only because it gets the business where it needs to go. Goals also act as a shared understanding of everyone on the team and a quantitative way to determine progress.
Many managers fall into the trap of dictating how to get to a goal, but this limits creativity among team members. Instead of worrying about the exact approach, managers should give team members the freedom to get to that goal however they see fit.
For example, let’s say a company knows it needs to increase its social media following by 1,000 people. If a manager doesn’t give a means to the goal, that goal becomes currency for creativity — and that can empower team members to get creative about a solution.
Offering a clear understanding of what’s expected, without dictating or micromanaging how it’s delivered, gives people autonomy to get work done their way and still deliver results.
2. Introduce a Framework That Fosters Accountability and Transparency
Do what you say you’re going to do to create trust from your team and make sure your team does the same for you. While good leaders might naturally hold themselves accountable for their actions, holding their teams accountable is one of the biggest things that first-time — and even senior — managers struggle with.
There are three factors that will help team members understand what their role is and give them the tools for holding themselves accountable. They need to know:
- What is expected of them.
- When things are due.
- How what they’re working on fits into what the rest of the team is working on.
Even though these seem obvious, a lot of managers don’t give deadlines or insight into the bigger picture. Collaboration technology can aid in this for remote (and in-house) teams by providing a built-in framework and process that gets managers and teams working toward this philosophy.
The right collaboration tool should help managers assign deadlines to tasks and projects, assign an owner, give the full team visibility into everyone’s contributions and allow communication directly in the platform about individual tasks or overall as a group. That way, managers (and everyone else) can see the status of every project and individual team member’s contributions in moving these projects forward, all in one place.
3. Eliminate the “Smartest Person in the Room” Dynamic by Democratizing Data
Gone are the days where the loudest, the most influential or highest-ranking person in the room gets to convince everyone that their point of view is correct because “they said so.” This dynamic is productivity poison for remote teams and every other type of team.
We live in a data-rich environment with Google searches, social platforms expressing people’s behaviors and relationships, software-as-a-service (SaaS) systems tracking everything about our sales, marketing and customer interactions, and so on. But as much data as businesses have, there’s usually a lack of access to it because everything is siloed.
Chances are, there are multiple pieces of data or insights that will influence decisions on a project, but there are usually key stakeholders that own each of these pieces. For teams to perform their best, every team member should be able to look at all the data available to make more informed decisions.
And not only does data let teams make better decisions, but it also enables them to get alignment from disparate team members. Data opens dialogue between team members and lends to fresh ideas — it’s no longer just one person dictating strategy.
4. Create Purpose for Every Individual Team Member
An organization’s purpose starts with its leadership. Knowing your purpose and constantly communicating it are two different things. Often leaders know their business goals, but have difficulty communicating and reinforcing those goals to their team.
Defining what the team is working towards and how you’re getting there will help individuals understand how they can contribute to the higher goal. Rather than doing “basic tasks,” individuals have full visibility into how their piece plays into the organization’s bigger mission.
When a team member’s purpose is closely aligned with the company’s purpose, it will give meaning to everything that an individual is working on. It creates a mindset of “everything I am working on is contributing to this higher goal.”
5. Keep Everyone in the Know
Communication may seem simple in concept, but it’s one of the hardest to implement for teams.
Creating a structure for reporting, for remote teams especially, is important. The structure itself can be flexible, but everyone should clearly understand their goals and their place in the bigger picture of the organization, so that they know what to report on.
At Infragistics, for instance, we hold 15-minute meetings every morning where each team member quickly goes through the top three things they worked on yesterday, and the top three things they’re working on that day. When everyone is in the know, individuals know if they’re on track to meeting their goal or need an extension, or if there are issues to flag with a team project. With a clear understanding of what to report on, team members are empowered to meet expectations of leaders, managers and other team members.
Visibility is key to productivity and collaboration in remote and hybrid teams. The more visibility employees can provide managers and team members into their work, through both their own doing and through technology, the better teams can perform.