Managing a team of remote workers can be tricky, especially when it comes to communicating and building rapport. Without careful attention, remote workers can easily start to feel that they're "out of sight, out of mind." So how do you help your distributed team members feel valued, keep them engaged, and even have fun working together? Here are 5 ways to show your remote team some love: 1. Engage With Them Just because you're not all in the same location, doesn't mean you can't enjoy team bonding activities. Try some fun activities for remote employees, send each other packages of goodies from your local area, and find ways to liven up conference calls and get to know each other. Use this list of team bonding activities for remote teams (scroll to the bottom of the article) for more ideas. 2. Include Them in Office Celebrations Include remote teammates in regular office activities like holiday parties, big announcements, and special celebrations. Live video streams, invites to participate in Secret Santa gift exchanges, ugly sweater or costume contests, online karaoke parties — the possibilities are endless. 3. Chat About Life Outside of Work Provide an informal place like Skype or Google Hangouts for the team to chat and get to know each other (and you)! Even though you may not meet face-to-face more than once or twice a year, you're still colleagues. Talk about the same stuff you discuss with your co-located peers in the hallways or kitchen: vacations, families, sports, pop culture, the works. That camaraderie and familiarity will be a huge benefit when it comes time for your team to collaborate, brainstorm, and creatively solve problems. 4. Don't Micromanage! When you can't physically see your team at their desks, typing away or making phone calls, it can be tempting to start micromanaging or checking in needlessly just to reassure yourself that things are getting done. Instead, set a regular schedule for how often you'll check in with your team, both as a group and one-on-one, and then stick to it. Focus on results and show your team that just because they're working remotely, doesn't mean they're being treated any differently than your local employees. Setting clear expectations and building trust can go a long way when it comes to keeping your employees happy, engaged, and motivated. 5. Send Them Company Swag As Jason Evanish points out, it'll help them feel like part of the team, boost morale, and reinforce the fact that they're valued just as highly as their colleagues who work from the office. 5 Ways to Show Your Remote Workers Some Love More Tips for Managing a Remote Team As part of a global team ourselves, we at Wrike have learned from experience how to avoid the common pitfalls of remote work and discovered strategies for effective collaboration. Download our free eBook for simple techniques that will keep your team productive, no matter how many time zones separate you.
With your company expanding at a rapid pace, you can no longer employ the same management tactics you used when your entire team could share a single pizza. Here are 5 tips to effectively lead and manage a growing team — without the stress, drama, or chaos.
Welcome back to the weekly Work Management Roundup where we collect the best links to articles on work, productivity, teams, and management. This week hasn't been a good one for local review site Yelp/Eat24, what with explosive open letters from ex-employees and then some poor social media decisions from the company. But the situation has ignited a larger conversation around not just work-life balance, but also what makes a great team at work. Read on for more: What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team (The New York Times): Author Charles Duhigg (The Power of Habit) pens a lengthy piece on how Google's Project Aristotle delved into data to figure out how its best teams behaved and worked. It all starts with understanding the group's norms, feeling psychologically safe to be yourself within your team, and being able to communicate clearly. A must read. 30-day Trial? 14-day? Freemium? Here’s Why it Probably Doesn’t Matter (MadKudu): Some good insight here for SaaS companies. Turns out it takes about 40 days to get 80% of SaaS conversions — no matter how long your trial period is. 61 Powerful Examples Of Conversion-Driven Website Copy You Need To See (LeadChat): Here are 50 examples of website copy that persuade visitors to convert into leads by taking a specific action. Get inspired to update your copy! 11 Apps to Help You Find Your Focus (Product Hunt): A useful roundup of productivity-enhancing tools, segregated into sound-based and distraction-blocking apps. Deep Habits: Write Your Own E-mail Protocols (Cal Newport): Brilliant tip: when first replying to an email thread, include in your message a “protocol” which identifies the goal of the thread and outlines the least number of steps to accomplish that goal. For example: when replying to schedule a supplier meeting, why not propose 3 possible times to meet right off the bat? More Work Management Reads Think About This: Why Stores Place Candy by the Checkout Counter (And Why New Habits Fail) (James Clear) Everything You Need to Know to Boost Employee Productivity (When I Work) Go Try This: 31 Steps To Work Smart, Not Hard [With Infographics] (Multipotens) How to Generate 10,000 Leads from LinkedIn in Less than 10 Minutes: The 10X-Ray (DocSend) Browse The Work Management Roundup on Flipboard If you use Flipboard on your mobile device, then you can check out these links via The Work Management Roundup magazine. View my Flipboard Magazine.
Want to build a great place to work? Instill autonomy, mastery, & purpose in your team. A lengthy, science-backed discussion on why these 3 factors increase job satisfaction for your workers, making your firm a magnet for top talent, and ultimately boosting your bottom line.
How can you successfully manage all the different personalities in your team —ideally with as little crying, complaining, and frustration as possible? Here are six strategies that will give you everything you need to know for cohesive collaboration.
When any new project begins, success is rarely guaranteed. Collaboration helps improve the quality of work by bringing in extra brainpower, but coordinating efforts between multiple people comes with its own challenges. These 12 experts weigh in on how to make sure your team is primed for collaboration success: Initial Project Communication Communicate the Purpose of Work “Make absolutely sure that everyone knows the purpose of the direction the team is going in, and the reason that their part in it is critical in achieving that end.” —Alexander Ruggie, 911 Restoration Show How Work Aligns with Larger Goals “Make sure that the team goals are clear. Demonstrate alignment in two ways from those goals: one, to the larger organization or company vision, and two, to each individual and the importance of the role they play." —Susan L. Lauer, Certified Business Coach Principal, Aspire Consulting Get Buy-In for the Vision “Collaboration increases when the goals and objectives are really clear. Also, if the team members are involved with the development of the goals and objectives, the buy-in is even better.” —Tatsuya Nakagawa, VP Marketing & Strategy, Castagra Products, Inc. Make Sure Everyone is on the Same Page "Get your team onto the same page, aiming for the same goal. Sit down with the team and explain your short- and long-term goal, and be open to their suggestions. Discuss how you have planned to hit those goals, and then assign each of them their respective work." —Anant Mediratta, CEO & Founder, WiseCalvin Organized Project Roles Know the Strengths of Your Team "Knowing the strengths, motivators, and behaviors of the individual team members can help you put together a better team. Knowing the same about each other will enhance their collaboration.” —Susan L. Lauer, Certified Business Coach Principal, Aspire Consulting Assign Everyone a Specific Project Role "Clearly designate who is responsible for each segment of your project. Your staff needs to know exactly who is in charge of what, regarding the project in question. That way, they'll know who to go to for help and who to follow up with as they move towards project completion." —Andrew Schrage, CEO & Co-owner, Money Crashers Identify a Project Lead with Strong Leadership Skills "A clear group leader is necessary. To define the group leader, someone with strong leadership skills will be the best choice for the team. What constitutes leadership skills? The ability to problem solve (outside of situational training received), to listen, to energize, to support, AND at the same time to add their knowledge and expertise to the outcomes of the team." —Jess Dewell, CEO, Infusion Principle Ask Your Project Lead to Consistently Gather Feedback "Designate a project lead who will accept responsibility for the project and seek lots of feedback from other team members. The team lead creates accountability, and the high degree of project feedback creates short, frequent check-ins on how the project is progressing." —Sam Balter Marketing Manager, Waterfall Discuss the Flow of Work from Person to Person "To eliminate bottlenecks, you need to delegate tasks on the front-end. Make it absolutely clear what each person's responsibility is, and then discuss the flow of project from person to person.” —Trent Erwin, Co-owner/Project Manager, Genesis Net Development Day-to-Day Operations Implement Scrum Methodology “I founded a startup financial tech company in 2012 and recently implemented Scrum, which has turned out to be fantastic way to get my team to collaborate.” —Jonathan Wallentine, AmcoInvestor Hold Regular Meetings for Problem-Solving “We meet almost every day where I ask: What do you need to move forward on this project? Where is it stuck? What can we do to get to 'done'?” —Beth Bridges, Marketing Manager, J - I.T. Outsource Try Setting Collaboration Hours "Set hours for specific collaborations times." —Trent Erwin, Co-owner/Project Manager, Genesis Net Development Use Specific Tools for Specific Functions “Use specific platforms for specific functions — don't mix them up! Messages via Slack over Email. All documents need to live in our team Dropbox account. All projects and tasks get defined in our project management tool. No rogue activities! Define and post them so others can see progress/status without having to consult you." —Kenny Jahng, Founder & CEO, Big Click Syndicate LLC Leave Email for External Communication "Use a chat system for exchanges and collaboration other than email. Leave email for coordination with customers/clients." —Trent Erwin, Co-owner/Project Manager, Genesis Net Development Standardize Organization & Naming Conventions "Standardized file naming conventions. E.g. Date first on all files using YYMMDD format, like 150612 for June 12, 2015, so that files sort nicely in folders; and include a client/project short code in all file names (so it is searchable).” —Kenny Jahng, Founder & CEO, Big Click Syndicate LLC Your Team Leadership Empower Your Entire Team to be Leaders "Give your team freedom to take initiative and implement new ideas; that will make them feel empowered and they'll perform well." —Shreyans Jain, Marketing Manager, EduPristine Don't Micromanage, Allow Them to Make Decisions Together “It’s like parenting: How do you split the last chocolate cookie? One child cuts, and the other chooses. Managers should see this as a guiding principle in collaboration. Instead of micromanaging, give a general directive and deadline, then let your team divide up the work amongst themselves.” —Angelique Pivoine, 911 Restoration Show Appreciation for a Job Well-Done and Invest in your Team, Especially Team Building for Remote Teams "Recognize the efforts put in by your team and appreciate it, this will make the team members feel good and it will also increase their interest level and productivity. If a team member has spent several hours on fixing issues, motivate him/her by showing gratitude and announcing his/her achievement to the team." —Shreyans Jain, Marketing Manager, EduPristine What collaboration advice can you share? Have you had to coordinate effective team collaboration? Do you work on a team that collaborates well every day? Share your experiences and advice in the comments below!
Nic Bryson is the Senior Director of Customer Support at Wrike. Since joining the company in 2009, he’s grown Customer Support from just one person to a remote team of 50+ members, spread across the globe. In the past 10 years, remote work has grown by 103% in the US alone. Fueled by increased worker satisfaction, greater productivity, and an average cost savings of over $11,000 per worker each year, the growing trend of remote work shows no signs of slowing. The ability to effectively manage a remote team is now a must-have skill, especially for small business and startup teams who need to take advantage of the global talent pool and freelance workforce in order to find workers with the skills they need, on terms they can afford. While the benefits of remote teamwork are compelling, it’s not without challenges—particularly for managers and project leaders. Communication, tracking progress and priorities, and managing resources are all made more difficult by distance, in addition to logistics like time zones and language or culture barriers. Even with the right tools and processes in place to make day-to-day work easier with remote teams, a larger challenge presents itself: that of scaling your team alongside your growing business. How do you successfully train new team members and cultivate a thriving remote team culture? And how do you provide your team with professional development and growth opportunities, when you may only meet face-to-face a few times each year? Here at Wrike, we’ve faced these questions head on with our own Customer Support Team, led by Nic Bryson. Over the last 8 years, he's grown the team from just himself to a group of over 50 people, spread across North & South America and Europe. From onboarding new members to developing and promoting new Support Team leaders, Nic has experienced firsthand the growing pains of scaling a remote team, and shares some of the vital lessons he's learned along the way. Essential Tips for Hiring Remote Workers Not everyone has a temperament that’s suited for remote work. Many telecommuters grapple with isolation, the pressure to be always on, and establishing a healthy work/life balance. That’s why it’s so important to go beyond technical skills and knowledge to consider whether a candidate’s personality is compatible with remote work. When you’re evaluating a potential new hire, what qualities should you look for? According to Nic Bryson, Senior Director of Customer Support here at Wrike, the key is to find someone who’s proactive: who will both seek out the answers to their technical questions, and put in the extra effort to connect with their teammates. In the support world, that means someone who isn’t just waiting for a new ticket to appear, but looking for ways to improve processes and projects. As a manager, this requires you to look deeper than the sheer number of tickets cleared or tasks completed, but the quality of work and willingness to go the extra mile. Who’s not only answering the customer’s question, but also providing them with related resources, or taking the time to follow up a few days later? Who’s considering how the work gets done, and looking for ways to make things more efficient or effective? The other important question to consider: is the candidate a people person? It may seem counter-intuitive that extroverts would pursue a remote position where they likely won’t interact with other people face-to-face, but Bryson says that drive to connect with others is essential. These are the kinds of people who will go out of their way to interact with their colleagues, whether via chat apps or video calls, and contribute to a successful remote team culture. Onboarding Strategies to Keep Remote Workers Engaged from the Start Remote team members can’t simply stop by your office or lean over to a colleague in the next cubicle to ask a quick question, so opportunities to see how other people work and learn through observation are limited. Casual office chats or lunch conversations with colleagues from other departments don’t happen naturally like they can in an office environment, which can limit a new team member’s understanding of how the company functions as a whole. That’s why thorough training is a must when onboarding new team members. Remote managers must make the extra effort to be available to their teams, answering questions, offering ongoing support, and providing the training resources and context that enables cross-department collaboration. Bryson says, “It’s just as important for people to know what they don’t know—and also understand that they’re not expected to know everything. There are no bad questions, and people should always feel comfortable asking for help. They need to be able to self-serve, or know who the best person is to answer their question.” Make sure your remote team has access to ongoing training and is always encouraged to ask questions, regardless of how long they’ve been with your company. "Servant Leadership" and Building a Strong Remote Team Culture Establishing a vibrant company culture is difficult enough when your team shares an office. When you’re communicating via laptop, it’s that much more challenging to cultivate close working relationships and a collaborative atmosphere. And as your team grows, that challenge grows with it. When Wrike’s support team was only a handful of people, new members spent enough one-on-one time training with their colleagues that relationships formed naturally. As the team began to grow, however, Bryson says he made a point to establish a servant leadership mentality. People were promoted to management positions not only based on their job performance, but their willingness to support their teammates. Now, the leadership team consists of people who look for opportunities to help their direct reports and provide them with the resources and mentorship they need to excel in their roles and grow their careers. Tools like Slack allow the team to be in constant contact throughout the day, discussing everything from work-related issues to personal news and pop culture. People are encouraged to be open about any challenges they’re facing and to ask questions. Bryson says this openness helps them resolve process problems, which are more difficult to uncover and diagnose as a remote team where visibility is limited, and people can be more hesitant to admit that they’re struggling with an aspect of their work. The team also relies on Zoom for team meetings, which allows for up to 25 webcams. Bryson says having everyone turn their webcams on during meetings makes a big difference, letting the team get in as much face time as possible. “If someone doesn’t have their webcam on, their teammates will make a point to say ‘hey, we want to see you!’ It’s not just me talking to a black screen,” he says. It's important to remember that it's not just the frequency of communication, it's also the quality. When your team is reading your messages via email, chat, or the comments section of your work management software, important cues like tone of voice and physical expressions are lost. And when you add in language and cultural differences, those nuances are even more difficult to translate. Even common sayings that are second nature to you can be easily misunderstood by remote colleagues who aren’t viewing the message with the same cultural lens. Bryson recalls, “Early on there was a customer communication with a support team rep, where at one point the customer said, “You guys are killing it!” And the support person replied with something like, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that”—they thought they’d done a bad job—and it was just one of those instances where you realize how fast idioms and cultural context comes into play. And you have to make sure your team understands what’s meant by those slang phrases that they might not be familiar with.” As workspaces become more and more informal, the use of emojis and gifs can help make up for some of the context cues and make communicating with your remote team that much easier (and more fun!) Meeting the Challenge of Leadership & Career Development on a Remote Team While offering advice and guidance to your team is tricky when you don’t get a lot of face time, providing opportunities for career development is essential to keeping talented team members around for the long haul. If you want remote employees to grow with your company, supporting career development is a must. For Bryson, this is why weekly one-on-ones are so important. In a culture of constant communication, sometimes one-on-ones can seem redundant. Since Support Team managers are always available in Slack, questions get answered right away and conversations are ongoing. As Bryson explains, “Sometimes there’s this sense of, we’re already talking all the time, so what’s the point of having a separate one-on-one? It comes down to a distinction between training and development.” Training is what the person needs to know to do their job. That’s what’s being offered during Slack conversations and team meetings. It’s where managers communicate the specifics of, “This is what you need to do and how to do it.” The one-on-one is where the team member gets to say, “This is what I want to be doing.” The weekly one-on-one makes career development a priority, giving team members dedicated time to talk about their own goals and professional growth. Plus, it gives managers an opportunity to delegate responsibilities and provide their team members with opportunities to build new skills. How the Most Successful Remote Teams Work Together As more organizations embrace new ways of working, managers will have to do away with the misconception that remote teams only work when they stay small. Teams that embrace structure, transparency, and a culture of knowledge sharing can—and do!—scale just as efficiently as co-located teams. How Wrike can scale your remote work processes Want to utilize Nic's advice and empower your teams to do their best work, regardless of where they are in the world? Wrike's flexible work management platform allows teams to keep track of projects, communicate seamlessly, and collaborate in real-time, all on one platform. Find out more here.
There's no magic wand you can wave that will transform your team into the Avengers. However, there are qualities that you can see and others you should avoid when building your new team. We spoke with Above All Else author and business coach Nancy Butler about how to build the right team from the ground up. In this interview, Butler talks about her "Only Touch Things Once" theory, discusses the best ways to train your team, and reveals the biggest obstacles she's faced while building a business. 1. As a business owner or manager, how do you choose the right team? I discovered three things about building a team: first, what are the things I do well, and if I did them all day, would I leave at the end of the day feeling energized? Second, what are the things I do well, but if I did them all day I would leave exhausted and miserable? And third, what are the things I do because I feel I have to, but am not good at and shouldn’t be doing at all? Instead of searching for people that were the same as me, I looked for the opposite. The goal was to get as close as possible to everyone doing the tasks that they really enjoy, they're good at, and make them want to come to work. And although this may not be 100% possible, I was able to get extremely close. I have since sold that business, but last I checked everyone was still working there. Everyone has been employed there at the same small business for over 15 years in an industry that often has high staff turnover. 2. What is your "Only Touch Things Once" idea and how does that help teams work more efficiently? I have a rule that, whenever possible, I only touch things once. Most every business has tasks or projects that are worked on many times throughout the day, month, or year. Whenever there is a repeatable task, there should always be a well documented system in place to enable greater efficiency and effectiveness. Technology can be a great tool to help automate many processes. Figure it out once, document it, and then follow the plan. You do not need to reinvent the wheel every time the same task needs to be completed. Here is an example of how this strategy can be effectively implemented to save both time and money: whenever a client called the office for a service issue the staff would give me a note to call them back. That was extremely inefficient and time-consuming for both the client and me. Instead, a system was put into place; the staff was trained on what to ask the client, and they set a next appointment right then for when someone in the office (which may or may not be me) would be calling them back to address the issue. The staff was also trained on how to research issues that clients may have, and to provide me the documentation needed to handle the issue appropriately before my phone appointment. That way, in one touch, we look over the information and already have a specific time to connect with the client with an answer to their question or to update them on the status of their request. I no longer had to call and call to try to reach the client again, and the client could usually be contacted only once, in a reasonable period of time, with an answer to their issue. "There should be a well-documented system in place to enable efficiency&effectiveness." 3. What do you think about cross-training people vs. having them specialize in one area? Which is better, and how do managers decide? It is important that the success of the business is not reliant on any one person, including the owner. If someone was out sick, away on vacation, quit, or was out for any reason, systems should be in place to enable others in the office to easily step in and see what needs to be done and have the skills to complete it. Cross-training and documenting all systems in an office is imperative not only for the smooth running of the office, but also for your clients. One reason this was so important to me for my former business is that I was managing other people’s money. There was a time when I became very ill, in and out of the hospital many times in six months, including an emergency surgery. If I did not have a qualified, reliable person to step up in my place, what would my clients do? I would also run the risk of losing clients because of my unpredictable circumstance. Since I did have good systems in place, not a beat was missed and everyone was well taken care of — which also took a lot off of my mind, so I could focus on what I needed to do to get well. 4. What was the largest obstacle you faced during the growth of your company, and how did you overcome it? The largest obstacle I had to overcome is one that many small business owners have: when to hire more staff. I knew I had reached a point where I could no longer do it all myself, but I also knew the business wasn’t bringing in enough income to afford hiring staff. I started by bringing on a high school student a few hours a week to do the simpler things like filing and stuffing envelopes. The first time I tried to find a very important paper and couldn’t access it because it had been filed incorrectly, I quickly learned that you get what you pay for. The lesson learned is: do not wait until you can afford staff to hire them. If you hire the right person for the job, they will more than pay for themselves. For me, this meant someone else could do the simpler tasks, allowing me to spend more time doing a better job for my clients and bringing in more money to the business. Once I took the leap of faith and hired the right person at an appropriate level of pay, my business took off very quickly. "If you hire the right person for the job, they will more than pay for themselves." Now Your Turn: What are some qualities you look for when building a team? We'd love for you to share your tips in the comments. About Nancy Butler: Nancy D. Butler, CFP®, CDFA™, CLTC is the owner of “Above All Else, Success in Life and Business”, a national professional motivational speaker, award-winning author, business coach and continuing education instructor. After twenty-five years building a very successful financial planning and asset management practice, to approx. $200 million in assets under management, while a single parent with no other source of income and only $2,000 to her name, in 2007 Nancy sold her practice and now uses her knowledge and experience to help others reach greater levels of success in their personal and business lives. She helps business owners do a better job for their clients and improve their bottom line and helps individuals live more successful, fulfilling lives and realize their dreams. Nancy has been quoted in Money magazine, Forbes, The National Business Institute, The New England Real Estate Journal, The Financial Planning Association magazine, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Day and many more. She has been a speaker for major corporations such as Pfizer, General Dynamics and Dow Chemical. Nancy has been a guest on many radio and television shows and is the author of the book “Above All Else, Success in Life and Business” published in 2012 and “A Realtors Guide to Greater Success, Above and Beyond the Competition” published in 2014.