Thursday, October 15, 2020

Managing Remote Teams


             Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

"It's a misconception that remote workers are lazy or not as productive or don't get as much done. Trust is so important. If you have relationship mistrust and require your team to be in front of you so you can stare over their shoulders and look at their computer screens, they're also not going to operate with a level of Trust. In a remote environment, you have that Trust, and people are generally getting more work done. They're more productive and are able to succeed." — Greg Caplan, Remote Year. 


Trusting remote teams does not mean that you micromanage them and breathe down their necks to get the job done. Trust in any relationship is a two-way street. By encouraging and motivating the teams and coaching them as required, you can earn that Trust. But all this does not happen in a single day. The pandemic has thrown everyone out of their comfort zones; teams co-located within the four walls of an office have suddenly started working from their homes. There are expectations of managers to manage remote teams. The pressure on the managers is overwhelming. While they are struggling to up their team management skills, they also have the goals to deliver results. While there are many tools available to stay connected with the teams, Technology alone cannot help you build the Trust.


Dip in productivity

“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they [are] at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.” — Richard Branson.

Don't panic and get overly concerned if you see even a slight dip in the team's productivity. This dip could be because of several reasons. Try and find out what is bothering the individuals and offer a solution. A drop in productivity may not always be because the individual is busy surfing the net or doing household chores. There could be a genuine reason and concern preventing the person from delivering and completing the work. Trust your team members and support them. Look at their past performance as that would give you some indications of the person's behavior.


One of my clients, a senior professional, was very uncomfortable when he had to manage remotely. Even when in office, he had a challenge managing his team. He did not believe in building a relationship with the team members. There was no bonding among the team members and nor did the manager bother encouraging it. The manager's attitude was to do things my way, and everything had to go through him. There was no autonomy. In short, there was no trust. When the management asked the team to work remotely, the manager was utterly lost and overwhelmed because he did not know how to manage his people who worked remotely. He always felt that the team is not engaged and not committed. The net result was poor performance. During a 360 feedback session, his team members mentioned that they don't worry about the quality of work because they know that the manager would anyway get it redone.

With the pandemic forcing people to work remotely, the team members were an anxious lot. The manager failed to understand their issues and show any empathy; thus, there was no sense of belonging.

Can Technology help you achieve a well-bonded team while remote?

Technology supplements human interactions; it can never replace it. Technology cannot be the best option in every situation. Human to human interaction is fundamental. Your team member will always want to talk to you or to meet you in person. We are all social creatures, and tools cannot connect with us emotionally.


Technology can never 100% replace face to face meeting or a personal discussion on the phone. If you think by communicating with your team on WhatsApp or slack, or any other tool means you are in touch with your team members, you are mistaken. Please pick up the phone and call them, talk to them, and understand their problems. While you may not see the expression on their faces or observe their body language, the tone of their voice on the phone can help you understand their story. Use Technology and messaging apps to complement the communication channels and collaborate with the entire team, but don't forget to talk to them over the phone. Don't forget the human touch. Acknowledge their achievements, inquire about their well-being, offer than solutions, and empathize. Have frequent Zoom meetings so that each of you feels connected.


How to manage remote teams and develop a Trust relationship

Virtual teams are a new reality and are here to stay. Therefore it becomes crucial for all managers and leaders to learn the skills to promote bonding between their different team members.

Remote work is always lonely, and you miss the visits to the coffee machine and the hallway discussions. Bonding over lunch or networking after office hours is no longer available.

More important is ensuring that remote workers feel safe and respected at all times. Team members would juggle with multiple responsibilities of managing their kids, household chores, and office work. Under such circumstances, they would be under pressure to complete their work and manage other commitments. During such time, showing empathy towards them is crucial. Understanding what each person is dealing with at home is essential. Staying in touch with all your team members and respecting them during these challenging times is necessary. Respect is reciprocal.

Virtual communication can be difficult for some, and everyone on the team may not be comfortable communicating virtually. Coach such individuals and help them navigate difficult moments and guide them to write or escalate issues or talk if something is bothering them.

"Remote work is this incredible invitation to really get good at building inclusive cultures where there's a wide variety of types of people, and to build a culture where everyone feels included and everyone is experiencing ongoing growth and development on a regular basis. That's the challenge, and it's not an easy one. But the business isn't easy." — Shane Metcalf, 15Five

Friday, January 31, 2020

A Book and a Pot of Coffee- Four reasons why I think they are my best friends.

" What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book and a cup of coffee" -Anthony Trollope

Photo by Stella Rose on Unsplash

A good book and a pot of hot coffee is my best medicine whenever I am feeling low. They say books are good friends and there is hundred percent truth in that. Being an introvert myself, I have always found solace and peace with a good book to read and it keeps me company.

I forget all my worries and troubles when I am reading. For me getting lost in books is the most easiest thing to do if I want to cut all the noise around me.

 At home, I have my favorite corner and my table stacked with books that I am reading. I can live here for the whole day , oblivious  to my surroundings. Unfortunately I do not have the luxury to do that.

Choosing Books 

While at home last week, I started reading a book my neighbors daughter had left behind. After turning a few pages , I  was completely absorbed in the book. Before I realized, I had absent mindedly taken the book home, found my favorite corner and started reading. The book turned out to be  really interesting.  Under normal circumstance I would not have bothered to pick it up or buy it from a store just by reading its title and looking at the cover page. So sometimes the cover pages can be really deceptive.

I have never had any particular strategy for choosing what books I would like to read. But I do know the genre of books that I am generally interested in reading.  I often make a wish list of books I would like to read based on recommendations made on Goodreads or blogs that I follow. Goodreads is also considered as a goldmine for discovering new books. At Airports and book stalls I definitely browse the books that have been displayed as bestsellers. Since most of my reading is on Kindle these days, I also check the amazon recommended books and the amazon recommendation algorithm does not let you down.

I frequently visit the local bookshops and libraries. It is very difficult to choose a good book from the vast collection at some of my local bookshops. I am completely lost and struggle to control my wallet.

Books as Best Friends.

But what is it about books that makes it our best friend. Lets look at some of these reasons.
  • They don't question us and engage us in any kind of war of words. Infact they help us find answers to questions that would be bothering us
  • They make us forget our worries and trouble even if it is for the time that you spend with them.
  • They don't leave you alone, they are always there for you when you need them. I sometimes get up in the middle of the night and start reading . But they don't thing I am crazy.
  • They are non judgmental. They don't judge you and accept you for what you are. Where else in the world can you find someone who does not judge you.
In an environment which is so fast paced , dynamic and filled with noise , books are the only friends that can help lift your spirits, prepare you for the times to come, allow you to de-stress and support you to regain your confidence.

Author Jhumpa Lahiri has very rightly said,"That's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.

Those were my reasons why I love to read. What about you? Do share your love for reading and any interesting book recommendations.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Three prompts to help you let go of any regrets

"Regret is an appalling waste of energy, you can't build on it - it's only good for wallowing in"     Katherine Mansfield   

Photo by tom coe on Unsplash
 It is said that holding on to regrets causes us to take more aggressive steps and risky actions in the future.

We can regret many things in life like the choices that we made, the career decisions that we made, some of the purchases that we did, but could have been avoided.

Can we do anything to change the past? certainly not. We can only make ourselves more miserable and submerge in the grief. Instead , forgive yourself and move on.

Forgiving yourself is not as easy as it sounds. It can be the most difficult thing to do.

I read this book from Neil Pasricha , You are Awesome. The author gives three prompts that can be used in the morning to help you let go of your regrets. It has been a big take away for me from this book.

Here is the two minute morning practice that Neil recommends. Every Morning grab an index card or a journal and write these three prompts,

  1. I will let go of.....
  2. I am grateful for......
  3. I will focus on.....
I tried this for the last one month. And believe it or not, it really helped me make my day more pleasant and positive. 

Studies have shown that when you welcome your day with a positive mindset, it results in higher productivity and higher creativity.

You feel so relieved and liberated when you write down and complete the three prompts. By following the above simple technique , I make my day more meaningful and stay in the moment.
How about you?