Many of us are missing the days when collaboration was as easy as stopping by someone’s office or arranging a face-to-face team meeting. Effective collaboration can still happen in the remote workplace, but it means cultivating a different set of skills and attitudes.
Here are some of the foundational elements for successfully collaborating as your team works remotely.
Shift the mindset. In the early days of the pandemic, working from home felt like a novelty—a quick solution for a few weeks until things got back to normal. The perspective now is far different. Remote work looks to be a long-term reality for many of us. As leaders, we need to help people shift their mindset to consider the new possibilities for creativity and innovation that remote work brings instead of wishing they were back at the office.
Understand the different types of distance people are experiencing. In addition to the constraints of physical distance, remote teams face operational distance, where different teams have different sizes, skill sets, and attitudes, and connection distance, where trust, empathy and listening are more important—and more challenging—than ever. Leaders who want to build a strong foundation for team performance should first focus on improving connection distance. Strengthened trust and communication, in turn, are the best way to overcome operational and physical distance.
Ensure psychological safety. Remote communication blurs some of the nonverbal cues people rely on for a sense of safety and security, and as a result there’s a greater tendency for people to hold back. Leaders need to create an atmosphere of safety and mutual respect so people know their questions and thoughts are welcome and feel safe speaking their mind.
Foster true diversity and inclusion. Great collaboration requires diverse viewpoints, and it’s easier for majority voices to dominate in online settings. Leaders need to make sure everyone is included—that diversity is genuinely built into the collaborative process and not a matter of token representation.
Prioritize process and accountability. Clear and well-documented workflows and documentation are critical to the success of any remote team. Something I often suggest to my clients is creating and maintaining a team charter—a regularly updated document that identifies the team and its responsibilities, context and accountability; sets specific measurable goals; assigns roles and responsibilities; and outlines work processes, a communication plan, and structures for decision-making and conflict resolution. Such a document, accessible to all and updated as needed, can go a long way in keeping everyone collaborating successfully and in promoting accountability.
Especially since the pandemic upended everyone’s work processes, a proliferation of systems, platforms, apps and gimmicks are all being marketed as helping teams collaborate effectively. Some of them may even be effective for your workplace. But before you dive in, remember that collaboration begins with people, and meaningful improvement won’t come from new technologies but from better connections and deeper relationships.
Lead from within: For collaboration to be effective as we work remotely, leaders need to focus on connections, processes, and communication.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.