Keeping a finger on the pulse of your remote team can be a significant challenge - especially if such a model has only recently been forced upon you.
Whilst productivity is vital, it is also much harder for a team leader to get a sense of each individuals' general state of mind when they are largely out of sight.
When the team is physically present, each member naturally receives a continual flow of ‘information’ through formal and informal; intentional and unintentional signals.
They overhear the conversations of others, catch their voice tone and even absorb the wordless sounds their colleagues emit from time to time (that express quite a lot, if you think about it); as well as receiving and interpreting non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language.
All this means that, in a distributed team, the role of the leader as Shepherd becomes even more important - and even more strained.
In a distributed team, the role of the leader as Shepherd becomes even more important - and even more strained.
In a remote setting, the Shepherd Leader’s ability to notice the condition of each one of her sheep is severely hampered. Sometimes a sheep can be lost, wandering across virtual hills for a number of days before the remote shepherd cottons on.
Of course the executives on our teams are not really ‘sheep’, and neither are they robots that simply carry out instructions. In a remote team, a higher degree of self-leadership is required, where the individual must act in a more responsible, more sovereign way over their area of responsibility and their time.
Away from the watchful eyes of their overseers, each team member must be able to prioritise their own tasks and navigate their challenges, whilst maintaining a healthy daily schedule and remaining self-motivated.
It is not only that the sheep are out of sight, it is also that the *threats* to the sheep are out of sight
But it is not only that the ‘sheep’ are out of sight, it is also that the threats to the sheep are out of sight. For those still adjusting to recently enforced remote working it is essential that such threats are unearthed as rapidly as possible.
For this reason it is doubly important that regular feedback loops are established to ensure that not only the formal communications have been received as intended and that tasks are being carried out as expected but that the leader is able to effectively assess their remote team members’ state of mind.
With a distributed team, it is more important than ever to understand the unique motivations and drives, the stress points and weaknesses of each individual. Once these are clear, each one can be provided with the unique type of support that they require.
There should be no sense of shame for any individual requiring support, as we all have tendencies to lean one way or another - and can benefit enormously from engaging with someone who can help us course-correct on a weekly, even a daily, basis.
So imagine what it would be like to have readily available a profile of all your team members that highlights not only their natural character strengths but also their specific points of likely stress.
Imagine being able to anticipate their specific points of stress and address these issues ahead of time - creating feedback and accountability loops, or having them buddy up with someone who can coach them or even take on some of the tasks.
This initial insight can save a huge amount of frustration, stress and losses in productivity; helping the remote team leader ensure the individual needs of her team members are adequately met - maintaining mental health and helping them flourish even whilst distanced from their colleagues.
If you’d be interested to see how the ‘TEAM ME’ Remote Team Profiling System can rapidly deliver accurate and actionable insights on your team’s innate strengths, underlying values and stress points, contact me today.
Author, Speaker & Creator of Team Me Profiling System
Pad is a trusted adviser to business leaders across the globe. He is Director at Come Alive Success Coaching ltd. and the Author of TEAM ME - How to Play Your Best Game in Life, and TEAM GUY - Forging Men of Soul & Steel.