Remote LeadershipMarch 27th, 2020
How to reduce noise in communication? How to motivate your people? What tools and methodologies to use for an effective leadership of your teams?
Reflections on how to motivate your Remote Team:
Leadership is a very abstract and broad subject and about which many things have been thought and written. In my opinion there is no right and wrong; there is no right and wrong and certainly what works for certain cultures and people does not work for others. The current context adds a layer of complexity to the theme of leadership, since a new highly impacting variable in the relationships and dynamics of groups entered the equation: Remote Work.
This is especially important because probably the vast majority of people who are now "forced" to work from home never did it, or at least never did it 100%, where they simply spend weeks without being in person with anyone from their team.
Knowing that leadership is a shared process, and not (contrary to what many argue) an exclusive characteristic of the one who formally leads (even though this element has certain skills), in my opinion one of the most important characteristics for a remote team to work properly is trust.
If the team members do not trust each other, everything else falls apart, making it difficult to articulate the processes in order to achieve goals that generate results. It is therefore of paramount importance that the leader knows how to develop trust within the team as a whole and between each of the team elements. One of the ways to be able to promote trust is transparency, to bring visibility to the work that is being developed.
It is vital that the team processes are well identified and that each one knows exactly what functions they need to do and what contributes to the whole, that is, which are the Critical Drivers.
For this to be possible, it is vital that the team processes are well identified and that each one knows exactly what functions they need to do and what contributes to the whole, that is, which are the Critical Drivers. What are the single most important tasks of each of the functions, of the elements of the team, which are the most dependent on who performs them, and the least dependent on other variables. In a simple example, a sale is not a Critical Driver, but calling a customer with the aim of scheduling a meeting that can translate into the grant of a project is considered a Critical Driver.
So, if everyone knows their own Critical Drivers as well as the rest of the team's, and if the accomplishment of these Critical Drivers is measured and made available to everyone, the transparency of everyone’s responsibility is guaranteed which, in turn, promotes trust.
It is up to the leader to implement (or ensure implementation) the set of processes and systems that guarantee that the team knows its Critical Drivers measurements, and make available the Key Performance Indicators that come from the accomplishment of the Critical Drivers.
Tips: Having a Critical Drivers scoreboard and consequent KPIs updated and accessible to everyone is key. Having a Scorecard (which is different from the functional description) for each of the functions, where the mission, objectives and skills of the function is made available is also key.
On the other hand, the leader must be the promoter of open communication with the teams, something that becomes even more relevant when we are fully remote. It’s up to the leader to provide formal communication channels and suggest informal communication channels, so that the information keeps flowing with the least possible noise. For example, at an informal level, it may be useful, especially for teams that are less used to working in a Remote logic, to keep an open chat room, by video call, where the elements can enter and leave, just like they would at the office coffee room. The idea is to have a place where people can see and hear each other without needing an appointment, just like in a normal office. Fortunately, we live in a time when technology allows us to work remotely in a relatively simple way, and there is no lack of tools to facilitate communication and business processes. At RUPEAL Group we use Basecamp, Slack and ZOOM across the board, but the leadership allows each team to use the tools that best adapt to their processes and way of working.
Giving teams freedom of choice becomes more relevant in the moment in which we live.
This point of giving teams freedom of choice also becomes more relevant in the moment in which we live, since it’s a way of speeding up processes and allowing work to flow in the best possible way.
Finally, I believe that leading is fundamentally helping to eliminate noise so that the teams can become more efficient in the performance of their functions, which is why throughout this reflection I tried to share some of the ways of serving your teams, eliminating noise, or if you want, friction. In the same sense, I suggest that you, as a leader, try a simple exercise that can help bring awareness to strategies for the specific needs of your teams. Ask yourself:
What can I do now that will reduce noise / friction in the performance of my teams?