Four Traits of Powerful Remote Teams

Learning new things is always a challenge. And they’re even more of a challenge when everyone has to learn them all at once. Imagine working for a company where everyone was hired within a week. No one would have any support or experience. It would be chaos!  

That’s the way many companies felt when they had to make the switch to remote work at the beginning of the pandemic. Everyone was scrambling, very few were prepared, and there were many mistakes, followed by halted projects, increased frustration, and uncertainty.  

 As with many things, it helps to model yourself after those who have been successful in doing what you’re attempting to do. And while you may have worked out the major kinks in the first few months of working remotely, it pays off to delve deeper and take a look at the foundation of how you’re running your remote team.   

Here are four traits that successful remote teams have in common. 

1. Individual empowerment 

For remote employees to be their most effective, they need to have a fair amount of freedom to take the lead on their work. Managers and team leaders aren’t as available to hop on issues and get questions answered as they would be in an office. Allowing your team members the leeway they need to find the answers to their own questions, create direction for themselves, and take the initiative whenever they can will help them in more ways than one. Having the ability to take the initiative will: 

  • encourage employees to take more ownership over their tasks 
  • motivate employees to become self-sufficient, creating room for professional development 
  • urge team members to reach out to one another (instead of the boss) for direction and help, increasing collaboration and team involvement  
  • create a more efficient team that only brings challenges to the boss once they’ve run out of ideas and solutions, freeing up time for the team leader to focus on their own work

2. Time for fun  

Like any on-site team, your remote workers need time to relax in a social environment with each other. Creating a virtual happy hour, end of week check-in meeting, or virtual games can help your team feel more connected and engaged with one another.  

People working remotely who say they struggle with it often point to feeling isolated and disconnected. Successful remote teams take this seriously and make efforts to create time for employees to connect. Even if you don’t have a weekly happy hour on your calendar, consider encouraging your team to take a minute or two to chat about non-work related things before a meeting begins, just like you would do in person. This practice creates a critical moment of social connection and mental break from an otherwise quiet and focused day. 

3. Strong core values 

One of the most effective ways to help your team stay aligned and engaged with your company is to develop them around a set of core values that your company holds. Integrating your company values into your onboarding process, your communication, your goals, and your employee (and customer) experience is a wonderful way of creating a mental foundation for your employees to work off of.   

When your employees are familiar with your company’s core values, they can make informed decisions around how they should approach challenges and problems, meet their own goals, and set expectations around how they should be working on their team. Strong core values create a roadmap for employees to follow that provides clarity and a sense of understanding around their function within your organization. This is particularly important with remote employees who need a strong connection with your company to feel connected in their roles while working from home.  

4. Work-life balance 

While working from home can lead to increased productivity and engagement, it can also mean that employees struggle with creating boundaries between work and their personal lives. Without the physical distance between home and office, there is a literal lack of separation between work and life that remote workers experience daily. Employees who can’t step away from their work while at home may start to burn out.  

Set very clear boundaries around when employees should be available. Encourage your team leaders not to answer or send emails after 5:00 pm and to discourage their team members from doing so. Work a healthy work-life balance into your core values and set the expectation that your employees don’t work on their days off or in their free time. Boundaries will help employees feel more comfortable stepping away from their work and allow them to take the time they need to lead a healthy life.  

Keep on keeping on 

As you continue down the road of remote work, check in frequently with your team to find out what is and isn’t working. Keep a running list of the challenges your employees come across and check back with them about their progress. Keep tabs on what other companies are doing and look for new solutions and ideas to keep your team fresh, engaged, and happy. Like anything, it takes practice, patience, and perseverance. Keep working at it, keep talking to your team, and keep trying new things. Eventually, you’ll find your swing. 

 

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Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners 

How to Effectively Manage a Team of Quick-Starts

In the world of company culture, what makes an individual employee effective doesn’t necessarily translate to what makes a team effective. If you have a group of people who all share the same strengths, your organization will suffer because successful teams need different experiences and strengths to balance the dynamic.

If your team consistently has issues with project completion, work overload, and loss of ROI on projects, then you might be dealing with a team of quick-starts. Or, in laymen’s terms, people who thrive on quick, future-oriented thinking, innovation, urgency, and generating a lot of ideas.

Quick thinkers, with high energy and enthusiasm, they don’t shy away from a challenge. But they may end up with too many projects and ideas to complete in an orderly way and may allow essential things to get lost in the chaos.

If this sounds familiar to you, there are few things you can do to help create that essential balance your quick-footed team needs to work efficiently and effectively. 

Consistency is key

 

If your team is made of fast-paced, quick thinkers and even faster do-ers, you may find they resist what feels too slow for them. The problem is that many activities that are essential to growing a healthy company need consistency and deliberate, steady action.

 

Marketing, for instance, requires planning, persistence, and patience. While your team may get through the planning part, they may begin to itch for something new before they’ve given the activity enough time to be effective. You can address this kind of urgency and impatience in a few ways:

  • Create a system of accountability and team engagement where team members have time to check in on one another’s projects, uncovering areas of collaboration and gaps to be filled. This will bring new energy into a project and help team members keep themselves on track.
  • Have your team members outline personal goals and goals for their role within your organization. Set up quarterly reviews to evaluate their role and the projects they worked on in the context of the bigger picture of the organization. It will help them maintain a consistent vision for their role within your company and stay on track and aligned with company goals.

Creating much-needed consistency will help keep your team’s feet on the ground and moving at a steady, sustainable pace.

 

Ideas, ideas, ideas

 

People with a high capacity for creativity and idea generation tend to be excellent assets to any company. They push innovation and help organizations stay competitive. But new ideas are only great if they aren’t eating up the time you need to accomplish your previous ideas.

 

If someone comes up with a new idea, before any work is done on it, take these three steps:

  1. Evaluate current projects to identify if they still need work, and if so, how much needs to be done before the lead is ready to move on to something new.
  2. Define exactly how this idea/project connects to your company vision, brand, and goals. If it doesn’t hit every mark, put it aside until it does.
  3. Reference similar ongoing projects and evaluate whether this idea adds value by itself or is redundant and unnecessary.

Rethink your next hire

While you may not be hiring now, it’s essential to evaluate where your current talent is lacking in strength and plan for your next hire. Hiring for diversity in thought, experience, and talent is the surest way to build a capable team. If your team seems to be struggling with the same types of issues, it’s worth rethinking your hiring process and identifying where you might be going wrong.

We all have biases and tend to want to surround ourselves with people like us. This can be a detriment to your company culture and effectively stifle your team’s potential to grow and evolve into a more efficient, powerful group.

To identify gaps in talent, consider having your current employees take assessments such as Predictive Index or Kolbe A Index to determine what types of strengths you should look for in a new hire that compliment what you already have on your team.

It’s in the people

Whatever strengths or weaknesses your team possesses, do your best to be as objective and aware as possible. The best leadership comes from an honest place that can accurately identify and maximize strengths each person brings to the table. Remember, your team members are human and need your support and guidance. With the right nurturing, leadership, and culture, you can turn your team into the powerhouse you know it can be.

 

Photo by Lukas Gojda

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

 

3 Things to Stop Doing on Video Calls Right Now

As organizations settle into the new world of virtual meetings, some have taken to the latest technology quickly, while some have struggled. And while most companies have figured out the basics by now, there are little things (that have a big impact), which individuals need to look out for to keep meetings professional and effective.

If you, or your team, are suffering from any of these video call etiquette mistakes, fix them now.

1. Bad camera angles

A common issue is retrofitting older technology. Some cameras are separate from the computer, resting on the desk or a shelf. If your camera isn’t at eye level, you’re setting yourself up for, at the very least, an awkward meeting.

Imagine looking into a screen of faces, trying to feel connected to each one. And then one of those images that should be showing a face is actually showing a view of a neck and chin or is peering down on its subject from above. While you can’t exactly make pure eye contact on a video meeting, you can place your camera at eye level, so when you look at and talk to the faces on your screen, those listening are looking directly into your face.

Eye contact, facial expressions, and body language are all critical parts of catching and holding the attention of others. Imagine trying to sell someone a product, or give critical feedback to an employee while they stare at the folds of your neck. Not a pretty sight. And not a way to make people feel connected to you.

Get that camera at eye level, and make sure you’re looking into it, for the good of everyone in your meeting. Your neck will thank you.

2. Browsing your computer

Even though you think you’re being stealthy, everyone can tell when you start browsing the web, checking your email, or working on a different project. Your face changes, your eyes stop focusing, and your body language starts to say, “I’m not listening.” Whether or not you think you can multitask, you’re eventually going to end up missing something or saying something that doesn’t make sense.

It’s not only disrespectful to everyone else on the call, but it turns efficient meetings into ineffective time wasters. You wouldn’t pull your phone out during a face-to-face meeting, so don’t do the equivalent just because you’re sitting in your living room.

3. Getting off-topic

One of the great things about video calls is the easy access to all your work, which you can bring up to show/share at your beck and call. There is something wonderfully efficient about pulling up related project documents for everyone to view simultaneously during a meeting. Screen sharing is great. And so is having all your material with you all the time.

But while it can be useful, it also opens the door for meetings to get off track. It’s easy to say, “Well, while we’re looking at this, I might as well show you this other thing that is sort of relevant but not directly on topic.”

Just because you have everything with you doesn’t mean it’s most efficient to talk about it all right now. One of the first rules of calling a meeting – whether in person or over video – is setting an agenda. If you keep finding yourself getting sidetracked by items that aren’t on the agenda, you’ve got a distraction problem that needs your focused attention to get back on track.

Don’t procrastinate

 While you may have put off making some of the fine-tuning adjustments to your video calling because of how quickly you had to adapt, it’s time to start thinking long term. Virtual meetings and working from home are here to stay, so you better get comfortable with meetings in front of a camera.

You don’t want to look around in six months and realize all your competitors or co-workers have their virtual meeting skills down to a T while you are still struggling. And luckily, it doesn’t take much to make the adjustments. And when you do, it makes all the difference.

 

Photo by Luis Molinero Martínez

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Hiring Managers, It’s Time to Adapt!

Among all the aspects of day-to-day operations that have changed this year, very little in the business organization has been left untouched. As the future begins to settle into a clearer picture, HR departments are doing what they can to adjust their practices to meet the new needs of the day. Among the methods needing evaluation and improvement, hiring is going to be high on the list.

Here are three areas that hiring managers should keep in mind as they adjust their systems to the new normal.

The description and the search

With millions of people unemployed, organizations are experiencing a larger than normal pool of candidates viewing their job postings. This can be an excellent opportunity for companies to be picky and find the best candidates possible for their roles. However, it can also cause problems.

With so many people out of work, it would be no surprise to find yourself slogging through piles of resumes and running through many interviews with candidates who aren’t good fits. To help avoid attracting people who won’t be a good fit for the role or your culture, you can do a few things.

  • Put the starting salary for the role in the description
    This is a good practice even if you aren’t fighting off hordes of job seekers to find the right candidate. Wage transparency helps job seekers decide for themselves if the role you’re offering would fit their needs. It also says something about your company culture: mainly, that you aren’t secretive, and that you value transparency.
  • Keep up your standards
    Having a larger pool of candidates may make hiring managers feel they have to put less work into the candidate experience. But doing this would be a mistake. Your candidate experience plays directly into your brand image and your reputation. It’s the first interaction new employees have with your company culture. Ensure you’re doing the best you can to respect the time and energy of each candidate—it’s good for everyone.
  • Be clear about your culture
    Where at all possible, include information on your company culture in the hiring process. Make sure your description honestly illuminates what it’s like to work for you. When you’re interviewing candidates, try convincing them not to take the job. Tell them about all the aspects of the role they might find challenging or frustrating. If they are still interested in the role, then you know you’ve got someone who is genuinely ready to take it on.

Regarding resumes

When hiring managers review resumes, it’s common for them to look for things that they deem as red flags. These could be:

  • Gaps in work (large chunks of time between employment)
  • Short stints at more than one job
  • Jobs worked below their skill level
  • Jobs worked that don’t apply to the traditional career trajectory for people with their skills

But it’s more critical than ever that recruiters take a second look at these practices. Assuming you know what each of these means on a resume isn’t just selling yourself short on potentially qualified candidates—it’s directly harmful to the job-seeking community.

With coronavirus causing mass layoffs, many people might have gaps on their resume or have to work jobs that don’t match up with their skill level. They may work temp jobs or positions that don’t relate to their field. This is not a defect. It is merely a fact of life working in a struggling economy. Do everyone a favor, and don’t assume anything. Make a note and bring it up in the interview and find out more from the candidate. You may be surprised by what you find.

Virtual onboarding

While you may not be hiring right now and don’t feel an intense pressure to create new systems for integrating remote onboarding into your process, you will eventually. Even outside of COVID, remote work is here to stay, which means that recruiters need to buckle down and figure out how they can meet the needs of new employees working virtually.

The good news is there are a lot of really great resources out there to help you design a successful onboarding process. Do your research and cover all the bases. The last thing you want is to bring someone on who struggles to connect with your culture, doesn’t feel a part of the team, and gets lost in the shuffle because they aren’t physically in front of anyone.

Don’t get complacent

However it is you keep your practices up-to-date, make sure you’re paying attention. As job seekers and recruiters alike adjust to the demands of our new world, it’s important to remind yourself not to get complacent. There will always be room for improvement and growth. Remember, the hiring process should be seen as sacred at your company, and treated with the attention and care it (and your candidates) deserve.

 

Photo by Volodymyr Melnyk

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Remote Work: Planning Long Term

As the world begins to settle into the reality of working from home as a long-term strategy, organizations must take the time to think ahead. When the pandemic hit, the world of remote work, which had been steadily gaining more and more attention, was fast-tracked into the right-now. There was (and in many cases, still is) a lot of maneuvering to make this new reality function properly.

Organizations had to grapple with new forms of communication, management, leadership, and company culture. Not to mention a load of new compliance regulations and resources that required some serious attention. But as time has passed, organizations have *begun* to find their stride, identifying new strategies, tools, and solutions to help them navigate this new world.

And as was predicted before the pandemic hit, organizations are starting to see remote work positions as viable options they can offer moving forward. While all the maneuvering and finagling to immediately make remote work happen will continue to serve organizations in the future, it doesn’t necessarily account for all that needs to be considered in the long term.

Here are three things to keep in mind for offering remote work indefinitely.

1. Where is your talent?

While your company may have historically stayed to the talent found locally, it may no longer be a smart requirement. Consider expanding the radius where applicants may be based. While working in different time zones can require some adjustments to how you communicate, it isn’t that hard to make the shift. Just be aware of the of needs within that role and determine how you’ll be able to meet those needs. For example, if checking in with a manager on a day-to-day basis is part of the role, being in a time zone close enough to allow for availability overlap may be a requirement.

The wonderful thing about expanding the radius of the talent pool is the exponential depth of field your hiring managers get to play within. This expansion affords you the flexibility to become more selective in your hiring, while potentially creating opportunities to connect with applicants of more diverse backgrounds, skillsets, and experience.

2. Re-evaluate organizational policies

Remote workers tend to have different needs than on-site employees. Take the time to re-evaluate what you’re offering employees and define what applies to those working remotely and those working locally. Here are examples of some policies you’ll want to consider:

  • On-site, or local perks such as gym memberships.
  • Remote working options often work well with flex time, while on-site work tends to lean away from this.
  • Hours tracking. How do you track time? Is it project-based, by the hour, or both?
  • Work-life balance policies addressing overtime.
  • Data and project tracking information. Is this available to remote workers?

If you’re choosing to offer remote working positions indefinitely, go through each of your practices with a fine-tooth comb. Identify what is and isn’t applicable and adjust as necessary. Not doing so will often leave your remote workers getting the short end of the stick, struggling to get their needs met.

3. Who’s remote? How do you support them?

Whether or not you’re offering remote work into the future, if you are doing so now, then be aware of the different circumstances of your employees. Do you have young parents whose children are home from school? Do you have students who might not have access to a private space? What are the resources available to your remote workforce, and how are you meeting their needs?

Do your research. Consider creating a company-wide survey asking about the challenges your remote employees are facing. Identify trends and find ways to help your employees overcome those challenges.

If you’re hiring for remote working positions for the future, identify your ideal candidate. What requirements do they need to fulfill the position? What are the ways you can support them in their remote role? Determine what all you need and communicate it to your candidates so they can make the most informed decision about whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your remote role.

Keep learning

As we continue to grow and change along with the changing demands of the economy and safety guidelines, businesses must keep a close eye on the inner workings of their organization. Just because you evaluated the challenges your newly-remote employees were facing at the beginning of the pandemic doesn’t mean you can afford to look away for more than a few months.

Needs change. New challenges arise. It’s up to leaders to keep a continual dialog going with employees to be aware of situations as they change and develop (not after they’ve been festering and growing). Keeping up this dialog will help you steadily improve your processes. Be proactive about it and offer space for employees to reach out with their needs. The better the communication is, the more successful everyone will be.

 

Photo by Michael Simons

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners