How to build trust with a remote team
6 key elements to build trust with your remote team
If you are able to build trust with a remote team, everyone will succeed including your business.
Holding employees to account is one of the key concerns for those organisations which are reluctant to shift away from a presence culture. But how do you build trust with a remote team and hold them accountable without resorting to command and control software? There is frequently uncertainty around this and leads to some major problems. If businesses don’t have software that tracks every moment an employee is logged online, managers either micro manage or employee boundaries between work and life disappear. If you are able to build trust with a remote team, everyone will succeed, including your business.
6 key elements:
1. Manage expectations
The best way to build trust with a remote team is to create clear goals and assign tasks. Finding out how team members like to be managed is useful. Some employees like a hands-on leader, others only like to check-in when there is a problem. Finding a balance and/or alignment between your own leadership style and your team’s preferences is critical.
With new hires you may want to have check-ins more frequently until they are onboarded to the level you expect. Ideally you should harness tech to get the best digital workflow. Organisations that fail to manage this, generally don’t use the right tools or don’t know how to make the best of them and end up in trouble. Everyone also needs to be fully trained and understand what the tech can do, what it can’t do and the downsides of any grey areas.
2. Agree communication channels
One of the biggest sources of frustration is in communication style. Some feel flooded and others have concerns over lack of transparency. This can be slack chats or Zoom calls. It’s important to get the mix right. When you are not in regular physical contact with your co-workers, it’s also easy to forget certain team members or omit key details which can undermine overall trust as it is experienced as withholding or exclusion.
Understanding the communication preferences of your team and co-workers and making those channels open to everyone, helps build trust with a remote team. It’s also important to make sure that any areas of conflict are moved to a private Zoom setting, where it’s possible for people to interact in almost the same way as they would in person, out of a public space .
3. No surprises
One 3Plus manager suggested that making sure there are no surprises is important to cultivate a culture of trust. When communication is open and transparent and expectations managed, the only things that can create a surprise will be any external triggers, that no one could have anticipated.
4. Socialise with your team
One of the most reported downsides of remote working is a feeling of isolation. People miss the camaraderie of a physical workspace. But making sure that there is time in the schedule for virtual coffees, a quiz, or unscheduled roll-ups are important to maintain social contact even though your team is working remotely.
Some platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Slack have a bot which can schedule calls with two different team members chosen at random to have a 15-minute chat. You can use breakout rooms and assign team members who don’t usually work together to do some black hat thinking exercises. It might feel like a waste of time, but it’s a way to make sure there are some levels of connectedness.
5. Focus on results and delivery
It’s important for managers to trust their team to produce results and not to worry if they leave their desks to pull weeds in the garden or empty the dishwasher. You want to focus on results and output. You also don’t want to worry about the time element. If someone chooses to go for a run in the afternoon, but works early morning or late at night that is their choice. Assigning core hours for availability will be part of that, but a good manager who wants to build trust with a remote team will value output, delivery and results, not the time spent on a computer.
Understanding that a team is able count on each other to reach their objectives and communicate early and clearly when there is a problem is an important component of a trust culture. Today, it’s not about the hours they’ve worked but what they’ve achieved. We all know that it's possible to spend eight hours a day in an office and do very little.
3Plus can help you reach your full potential as a leader. Find out more about our Leadership Coaching for Women.
6. Give recognition
It takes more effort to reward and show recognition dealing with someone virtually. They can’t see a warm smile or a nod of appreciation, nor can someone's colleagues of they've done a good job. So you have to make an effort to do that. No one else sees it either so it’s also important to give recognition publicly.
To keep virtual workers accountable and motivated, leaders have to take extra and intentional steps to build trust with a remote team. A culture of trust in your team will be the anchor to a successful business.
Take a look at our Lockdown Learning Program: How to manage remote teams more inclusively
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