Categories: PMI Training
By: Carlene Szostak
Quintina Solutions, LLC
Hybrid? Virtual? Face-to-face? We do 'em all!
The rise of remote work has caused a dramatic shift in how we collaborate and stay connected with our teams. With so many of us now working differently than ever before, it's essential to have the right tools and strategies to ensure everyone stays productive and connected. The question one must ask is, "How do you know how to choose?"
In this blog, we'll touch on a few of the best tools and strategies to ensure that you and your team can work both efficiently and effectively from wherever you are. So, what's the solution?
The short answer is C.A.T.
No, not the feline sort, but rather three distinct and needed steps for connectivity and productivity. First, there is "C" for celebration. Let me start with the end in mind. When speaking of celebration, it means something different to everyone.
Some team leaders might say that the success of a project well done should be celebration enough. This may have been true 40 years ago, but now generations matter. It has been learned that the younger your team demographics, the more expectation to celebrate. Big or small, a celebration is an expected part of the new normal. If you still need to make the time to celebrate, join us to learn some of the best practices.
Let's move to the letter "A." Assessing. Now that we have been virtual for a while, spend a few minutes assessing the tools selected by the company. Does it meet or exceed your needs? If so, great, don't change a thing. If it is difficult to use or has limitations, the chances of changing it might be slim unless you are the decision maker but know that you can enhance the tool with outside apps (assuming H.R. approves). Jack Box and Kahoot! are just a few app activities to help with team engagement. Integrate these tools within online meetings using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting, etc., or create custom sessions around them.
What about fun? Try to build fun into meetings and brainstorming sessions as often as possible. These virtual events can be used to both collaborate and build camaraderie among team members. Assigning team members unique roles in meetings help too, such as assigning one person to facilitate the meeting, one person to note key points, etc. Finally, check in with team members frequently, even if it's simply a quick chat between formal meetings, so everyone feels heard and seen in the remote environment.
To get the most out of these meetings, it's important to ask questions that allow team members to share more than just task updates. Questions can include things like, "What's been your greatest accomplishment since we last spoke?" or "What challenges have you faced lately?" Asking these questions can help team members open up and ensure everyone stays connected despite being in different offices. Scheduling regular and consistent check-ins also give teams structure and keep them organized, which helps ensure tasks remain on track. Keep an open communication policy so any queries or concerns can be addressed quickly. Furthermore, give your team autonomy over how they plan and carry out tasks instead of micromanaging them. This will help create an environment of trust and collaboration between team members.
Mix it up. Not all teams need to be together all the time. Look at your world. Is there a natural break that will allow others to work together? Possibly, a sliver of a project that touches someone else. Or partner with others to create a new project paradigm.
The final letter is "T" for talk. Talk to me...no, really talk to me. The most significant barrier identified over the last 3+ years is associate retention. Employee satisfaction decreases significantly when it is limited or has no consistent face-to-face interactions. It could be as simple as associates feeling that out of sight is out of mind. Or you may be dealing with more complex issues like cultural differences, or lack of consistent collaboration.
The challenges are real. So, what do you do? Take a breath, devote specific time, and listen. This means providing communication channels where team members can feel comfortable expressing themselves and speaking up when necessary. Have clear communication guidelines such as an agreed-upon way to raise issues and resolve them quickly, decide who should take the lead on tasks, etc. Everyone should know how decisions will be made, who will make them, and how frequently meetings will occur.
Not to be overlooked is to establish ways to socialize with one another virtually — virtual coffee chats, team happy hours — so there can be some level of human connection among team members. Give team members guidance on how best to communicate their ideas online.
C.A.T. is only the tip of the connected and productive iceberg. Interested in learning more and furthering the dialogue? Join me at the upcoming PMI Training 2023 events for Critical Tools and Strategies for Virtual Teams scheduled July in Boston, September Virtual, & October in Atlanta. We will cover steps to ensure sustainable success with virtual teams. We will discuss how to set expectations, use effective communication tools, and take a deeper dive into recognizing individual contributions.