The Leader Checklist to Foster Trust on Remote Teams

July 30, 2020

Contributor: Laurence Goasduff

Many more employees around the world are working remotely at the same time. Building trust in remote teams has never been so paramount for their success.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionized the way people work. To maintain the safety and well-being of the workforce, the majority of organizations across the world have adopted a remote work culture.

“ Accurate expectation-setting and transparency of data are key to build mutual trust and lead successful remote teams”

Gartner research shows that organizations with high levels of trust increase their average employee engagement by 76% over those with low levels of trust. Managers must establish mutual trust to build successful remote teams.

Be transparent

Managers often worry about the lack of visibility in the workflows and routines of their remote direct reports. Create a transparent system of performance measurement that quantifies outcomes, not just activities or the amount of time spent on tasks. Accurate expectation-setting and transparency of data are key to build mutual trust and lead successful remote teams.

Be accessible and responsive

Remote working may trigger feelings of isolation and not being unnoticed. Prioritize employees' needs when they are stuck on a project and they require your feedback to progress. Be clear on what communication tools you prefer to use, share your availability frequently and organize regular scheduled calls for everyone. Communicate a response time when acknowledging a request and encourage others to do the same.

Create team profiles to increase engagement

Remote working has put pressure on teamwork and camaraderie. Some companies have started creating groups to share coffee chats and pictures, and using apps like Houseparty to organize virtual pizza team parties, farewells and welcomes. They have also accepted other forms of virtual social interactions using apps like Prelude, VirtuWall, QuizBreaker, Kahoot and Water Cooler Trivia to increase engagement among team members.

Have team members create profiles of their personal interests, hobbies and development areas so that employees who have the same interests can share photos and conversations that ultimately foster friendship and enhance collaboration with work colleagues. 

Maintain confidentiality

As employees work remotely, they continue to have the same obligations to maintain the confidentiality of personal data, client information and all third-party work. Agree on norms for what information can be shared outside the team and what access control is required.

Assess progress proactively

Remote workers can feel sidelined or isolated, which can affect the progress of their workload. Proactively ask your staff if they are facing challenges in advancing their projects or are unable to prioritize their work. Ask if they need extra support and assistance. You can easily detect signs of anxiety and stress in the office, but remotely it is more difficult to discern. Therefore, you need to be more proactive and understanding.

Recognize the team

In a remote working culture, visual signs of recognition are nonexistent. Managers must appeal to the most intimate needs for recognition of human beings. Identify what the employee is seeking — achievement, status or affiliation.

  • If the need for achievement prevails, recognize their good work by engaging them in challenging projects.
  • If the need for status prevails, involve the person in a prestigious project, let them lead a working group or engage them in a project sponsored by top management
  • If the need for affiliation prevails, involve them in a project or product that is not working well because of tensions between team members.

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