COACHING REMOTE TEAMS
Like most companies, you are most probably recognizing the benefits of distance working for both your organization and your employees:
faster response times, increased operational speeds and the ability to adapt to changes in the market much more quickly which are all requirements for surviving in today’s decentralized and geographically-dispersed global economy. Added to this are the savings you make on office overheads and the ability to attract a more diverse pool of talent.
But for your leaders, the change in the way we are working is bringing new challenges.
Leaders not only have to maintain high levels of motivation, engagement and creativity from a distance, but they need to be considerate of teams working across different time zones and cultures to create a ‘virtual office space’ that unites and encourages great performance.
Leading a remote workforce does not come naturally to most managers and requires skills that need to be taught, refined and constantly developed.
Often leaders struggle to know how to build relationships and trust, communicate all aspects of the business, develop innovation and creativity, and drive performance and results when they have little or no face-to-face contact.
We have created a dedicated Coaching Program aiming at helping leaders overcome the negative aspects of leading remotely, such as the time, space and cultural challenges.
Using five tried and tested leadership practices, we help your managers extend their “REACH” with the following results as objectives:
- Leaders emphasize Responsiveness by being available to remote staff, whether local or international, as much as they are to office-based teams.
- Leaders use Empathy. They are transparent with team members about any differences among them and create opportunities for the team to learn about, and from, each other. They intentionally encourage team members to understand each other’s perspectives, traditions, languages and ways of thinking, and use this knowledge when interacting and considering others’ viewpoints
- Leaders accelerate Accountability. They identify who is accountable for meeting certain goals to build a sense of ownership in the team and clearly state, taking into consideration language barriers, what is expected of individuals and what, why and when things need to be delivered
- Leaders create Connection, using technology to build links between the team and the organization but knowing when face-to-face meetings are a must and who needs more close contact to help achieve great results
- Leaders respond speedily to requests for Help and anticipate when support may be needed. They regularly offer assistance and know the needs of each team member.
It is also critical that your remote employees are able to make decisions autonomously when they do not have quick access to their manager or another company resource.
Your managers must learn to coach their remote team members in order to foster decision-making, critical thinking and reactivity. Socratic coaching is one of the method we teach our clients that can deliver these results. The Socratic coaching method is designed to coach through self-discovery by asking open-ended questions, to help people find information, and teach a thinking process, to enable them to make better decisions in the future.
Some examples of Socratic coaching questions include:
- How will you know if you are successful?
- How will you work with other team members on this?
- What went well on this project?
- What didn’t go well as we had anticipated?
- How might we avoid similar problems in future?
- How do you think this impacted the rest of the team?
- Creating connection with your team is key, as any good leader knows, and using the right communication and collaboration technology can help you to build these relationships successfully with a remote workforce.
- Unfortunately, often managers tend to stick to the technologies they know best, using tools which may not be the most effective at communicating at a distance.
- Transferring leadership skills from managing teams locally to leading people working remotely or around the world needs to be built into a continuous personal development program taught from junior management level upwards.
- As part of any ongoing development, managers should be encouraged to conduct a regular skills audit on themselves, so they spot any areas that need improving. They should gather feedback from their team on their leadership style – a collaborative approach that will help engage, and gain the trust of, their team – and ensure that they all receive regular coaching and advice on working remotely, such as good time- and stress-management skills and coping strategies.
- At Evidence Coaching, we understand remote working as we have deliberately chosen this form of working for our assessment and coaching services. We believe remote working is already the norm today and will become THE norm of tomorrow.
- Leading a team that is spread across various locations does require a different approach to managing office-based staff. The right guidance and support can help your company successfully manage remote teams.