I am going to start using the Monday blog to share questions that I have received or case studies. My intent is to be able to help others who may be facing similar challenges. Feel free to send me questions or situations that you are facing and I will include them in future blogs.
Today’s question: “My team works in various locations and in multiple time zones. What is the best way to stay connected with them and provide the support they need?”
Anyone who has ever been in a global role can definitely relate to this question. Leading team members in different locations is a challenge all by itself, but working across time zones presents an even bigger opportunity.
Here are some of the strategies that I leveraged when I was in this situation:
- When you add remote team members to your team, you need to set up time with them to meet over the phone initially. Spend time getting to know them, understanding their motivations and any issues that they are facing. Let them get to know you and what you are about. They will have questions on how you will work together. Be prepared with a game plan that you can discuss and get their input.
- Plan to travel to meet them in person as soon as you can. If travel budgets are restricted, then find a way to video conference at least. Technology has come a long way and this can even be done on your phone now.
- Set up regular one on one meetings with them. Try to find a time that works best for both of you to connect which may mean that as the leader you are staying up late or getting up early.
- Don’t forget to communicate information with them on a regular basis. There are so many things that happen during the day and they are not with you to hear them. Encourage your team to meet with them regularly as well. The remote person is always feeling like they are out of the loop because they are not there with the team. Be consistent and over communicate to help alleviate that concern.
- Work out a schedule for staff meetings that will allow them to participate. They need to feel like they are part of the team.
- Find creative ways to help them be part of celebrations. Take pictures of what is happening in the office to them, have them send pictures to your group, send appreciation certificates through email, send small gift cards to thank them for a great contribution, create a video and send it to them. I had one creative team member that used some old bobble heads and made them into fun awards to send to people. It didn’t cost anything, but made such a big impact.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas. I know that there are many more strategies that could be leveraged. Get creative! The point here is to stay connected. Show that you are thinking about them when they are not there. It needs to be intentional on your part or they will feel like they are on their own with little to no direction. What will you do differently to help your whole team feel connected?