If I asked you to be honest today and tell me if you trust that your remote team members are working as they should – what would your answer be? Are they really that productive working from home? Let’s look at increasing trust in your remote team.
It is only natural for a manager to question your team’s productivity when you cannot see them physically working. In turn, your team members might feel guilty and constantly trying to prove themselves, risking burnout. In the end, it is a trust issue from both sides influencing the team members’ psychological safety, emotional and mental health and without trust as a cornerstone, the team cannot function as a high-performance team.
Research has shown that team members, who have elevated trust within the team and workplace, stress less; take fewer sick days; engage and socialise more and are overall more energetic at work. However, this is easier said than done. Firstly, managers underestimate just how important trust is amongst team members and secondly building trust takes effort and maintenance.
The MindSpa Institute have compiled seven tips that can guide a manager to lay a foundation of trust within a remote team.
1. Get to know each other.
Try to really get to know each other and understand everyone’s circumstances. If you don’t know a person, you can’t foster trust. Determine individual workstyles so that you can help them manage their challenges. By knowing their background information, you gain some insight into the individual, enabling you to build meaningful relationships. You can build relationships by hosting regular “virtual social events” like Zoom-coffee chats, a Skype-braai, or a Google Quiz Hangout. And yes, you can still do motivational talks and team building virtually which will help the group get to know one another.
2. Have open and transparent communication channels.
Use a variety of communication tools and software to communicate on a regular basis with your team members. Do regular check-ins. Make it easy for everyone to be present and available. Make everyone part of the communication process by involving everyone, especially in your virtual meetings. Ask their opinions, get their suggestions and encourage engagement throughout the meeting.
3. Consider the video option during virtual meetings.
Nothing can replace face-to-face communication and in our new world of work, where we communicate on virtual platforms, this has become very difficult. People have the option to switch off their webcam, or don’t look into the camera when they talk. Get everyone to turn on their videos, at least for a while, during virtual meetings. You build when if you see that person while you talk to them. Look at the camera so that you really make eye contact.
4. Make everyone feel comfortable and keep to your promises.
Working remotely has robbed us of informal connections with team members – you don’t bump into them in the lift or corridors of the office. They still need to know you are there for them, even if they can’t see you face to face so let your team know that you want to stay engaged and that you are only a phone call or email away. They need to know that you are there for them. Guide them in a positive manner, practice active listening and deliver on your promises.
5. Set clear deliverables and show trust from your side.
Teams work better together, feel safer with one another, and trust their fellow team members when they know exactly what is expected of each one and what the goal is. Roadmap your vision, mission, and core values. You, as the manager, have to show trust first from your side. People feel unsure when they don’t feel trusted or have no guidelines or structure. They need to know where they are headed and that you trust them to get there. Use the measurable outputs to determine if they are doing what they are supposed to do. When you have a team that works remotely, you cannot focus solely on the input and time they spend in front of their screens – you have to show trust from your side and measure their output.
6. Boost and give positive feedback.
People tend to feel like their successes or efforts go unseen when working remotely. It is up to the manager to reward, boost and compliment the team by giving positive feedback openly in front of the entire team. This will not only uplift the person you are complimenting but will also inspire and encourage others to follow in their footsteps and perform as well. People will trust those who make them feel good about themselves mush easier.
7. Don’t be scared to show imperfections.
Trust is also built when your team members see your authenticity and realise you are only human. Be honest and straightforward with your team members, which will in turn, lead to them being like that towards you. That makes them feel safe and they see themselves as your equal, which enhances trust.
Trust is earned and not given. It forms a vital foundation for teams who work remotely because it builds psychological safety within the workplace. Team members will be more encouraged, motivated, productive, feel heard and be happier at work. This can create the ideal work culture, retain talent, and decrease stress and burnout. Employees who trust their leaders and managers are more susceptible to change and they are more relaxed as risk-takers. This increases innovation within the organisation. Trust also encourages ethical decision-making – a win-win for both parties, fulfilling the goals of workplace wellness.
The Mindspa Institute offers a variety of soft skill training courses and can customise courses to fulfil the clients’ needs. Go to www.themindspa.co.za to learn more.