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Effectively Managing Teams Remotely

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Effectively Managing Teams Remotely

We all know that it is much easier to manage a team when all members are located together in the same office. However, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, most teams found themselves working remotely with very little notice. Your team members are in a new environment, they have Zoom fatigue, and are having trouble finding structure in a “work from home” setting.

This webinar was presented by Dr. Michael Sale, professor of information systems at the Stonehill College: Leo J. Meehan School of Business. It provided team mangers with ideas for keeping teams engaged, productive, and happy.

We all know that it is much easier to manage a team when all members are located together in the same office. However, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, most teams found themselves working remotely with very little notice. Your team members are in a new environment, they have Zoom fatigue, and are having trouble finding structure in a “work from home” setting.

This webinar was presented by Dr. Michael Sale, professor of information systems at the Stonehill College: Leo J. Meehan School of Business. It provided team mangers with ideas for keeping teams engaged, productive, and happy.

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Effectively Managing Teams Remotely

  1. 1. EffectivelyManagingTeamsRemotely Dr. Michael Salé | Stonehill College | Leo J. Meehan School of Business “The best thing you can do as a manager right now is to suspend your disbelief and put utmost trust and confidence in your employees that they will do the right thing.”
  2. 2. STONEHILLcollege ALittleBitAboutMe… Michael J. Salé, D.P.S. • Educational background in Management, MIS, and Computer Science • 10+ years as a Senior Project Manager for a software company – completely remote • Program Director for Stonehill’s Master of Professional Studies in Data Analytics • Agile / Scrum / XP Coach 2
  3. 3. STONEHILLcollege Whydoweliketeams? Whydowehaveteams? 3 • Most projects require more than one person • Sheer job completing power • Splitting the work, delegating • High functioning teams do not sit and do everything together • Ability to specialize • People do better, work faster, in their area of specialty / expertise • More minds generating ideas • Creativity, problem solving, innovation • More experiences and expertise = better decisions • All of this leads to higher quality performance
  4. 4. STONEHILLcollege Wheredoyoufindyourselfrightnow? • Many of you have never worked from home before, let alone manage from home. • Working from home is much different than managing from home. • You and your team members have been impacted by COVID-19 in various ways. • Caring for family members, being sick yourself, having to self-isolate • Lay-offs (or fear of lay-offs), budget cuts, reduced resources • Due to the abrupt move to working from home, you and your team had very little time to plan business continuity. • Very few organizations have pandemic/disaster plans. • Work is getting done but at a much slower pace. • Business is happening in “Work from home” time. • You feel like you are losing control as a manager. • Your usual MBWA does not work for virtual teams. • Communicating with your team and getting a pulse on projects is difficult. • … and you all have Zoom fatigue! 4
  5. 5. STONEHILLcollege Workingfromhomeisnotthesame! 5 • According to one study, remote employees work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts, resulting in more than three additional weeks of work per year. • 29% of remote employees said they struggle with work-life balance, and 31% said they have needed to take a day off for their mental health. • Distractions abound! • It was cute the first 100 times your cat walked across your keyboard… not so much anymore. • Children and spouses at home, television, phone calls, other media • Social isolation is real • So how do we begin to manage our remote teams effectively?
  6. 6. STONEHILLcollege Stopandrebootyourteam 6
  7. 7. STONEHILLcollege Pauseandevaluatethephysicalandemotionalwell-beingofyourteam 7 • Have your team members or their families been directly affected by the pandemic? • Do you have team members that are experiencing anxiety, depression, OCD, or other psychological issues? • Do you have team members that are a member of high-risk groups? • Do you have team members that have existing medical conditions that have been exacerbated? • Key take aways: Your team’s health and the health of their family comes first (and that includes you!). • Based upon your assessment of these items, you may drastically alter your expectations of team members.
  8. 8. STONEHILLcollege Takeanenvironmentalandtechnicalinventoryofyourteam 8 • Do your team members have a comfortable place to do their work? • Does their environment have minimal distractions (kids, spouse, other outside noise)? • Do they have a fast-enough Internet connection to do their work? • Do they have the necessary equipment (laptop, printer, video conferencing equipment, phone connection with reliable service, headset, ergonomics, other devices)? • A good way to determine this is to create a quick survey and send it out to all team members. Be sure to provide a space for “other concerns.” You will be surprised at what you get. • Tools: Google Forms, Survey Monkey, Microsoft Forms (usually included with 365) • Work with your IT department to try to find solutions to some of these problems.
  9. 9. STONEHILLcollege Techniquesforgettingtheteamrunningsmoothly 9 • Hold regularly scheduled check-ins • Establish multiple acceptable lines of communication • Set boundaries (hours works, availability, etc.) • Provide opportunities for social interaction • Manage expectations and focus on outcomes • Provide formal opportunities for team reflection • Be empathetic, supportive, and encouraging • Be flexible. Be patient. Listen!
  10. 10. STONEHILLcollege Holdregularlyscheduledcheck-ins • There are different options for check-ins - Use both • One-on-one • A time to check in with each and every member of your team • Preferably by video • At first daily (small teams) and then switch to every 2 or 3 days, and then every week • This sounds like a lot, but remember how much face-to-face time you are accustomed to having! • Always ask them what they need and how they are doing • Ask if they are running into obstacles • Ask for feedback (and act on it) • Give them your undivided attention • Entire team • You need to see your team and your team needs to see you – must be done via video • Daily at the same time • Use this to set the agenda for the day or conduct a “Daily Scrum” • What did you do yesterday? What are you doing today? Do you have any impediments? 10
  11. 11. STONEHILLcollege Establishmultipleacceptablelinesofcommunication 11 • Considerations: • Don’t have too many official lines of communication or it will overwhelm your team. • Not everything needs to be a Zoom meeting! • Check with your IT department to make sure you are not breaking any security protocols. • If you notice people are “hiding,” reach out personally. • It is OK to be low-tech! • Email is not sufficient • It gets buried and it is difficult to convey emotion • Possible options: • Phone call • Text messaging (individual or group) • Slack • Microsoft Teams or Skype • Zoom • Google Meet (now free) • WebEx • GoToMeeting • Many providers have offered completely free or very low-cost options • IMPORTANT: If you are introducing a new tool or platform, teach your team how to use it!
  12. 12. STONEHILLcollege Setboundaries(hoursworks,availability,etc.) 12 • Determine the official start to the workday • Remember family obligation of team members • Time zones (if team members have relocated) • A start to the workday means that the team member is available and should be working. • Set boundaries with work hours / hours of availability • If your team normally does not work past 5pm or on weekends, why should they start now? • Do not interfere with your team’s personal and family time. • Encourage team members to log out of communication platforms at the end of the day. • Enforce work / personal life boundaries and encourage all team members to do the same.
  13. 13. STONEHILLcollege Provideopportunitiesforsocialinteraction 13 • Remember that ”water cooler chat” no longer exists • “One of the most essential steps a manager can take is to structure ways for employees to interact socially (that is, have informal conversations about non-work topics) while working remotely. This is true for all remote workers, but particularly so for workers who have been abruptly transitioned out of the office.” (HBR) • Provide time at the beginning of team meetings for non-work-related matters (What did you do this weekend? How are the kids? Did you see that Red Sox game? …. Wait.. Never mind) • If budget allows, throw a virtual pizza party. • Have a ”Random” or “Just for fun” chat channel or virtual video water cooler. • Some of these solutions might sound forced or artificial, but the outcomes are: • Reduced feeling of isolation • Increased sense of belonging • Stress relief • Introduction of some type of normality
  14. 14. STONEHILLcollege Manageexpectationsandfocusonoutcomes • This is not “business as usual” • Be realistic with your expectations of your team members and yourself!! • Talk with your own manager about these expectations • Realize that projects could take much longer for virtual teams • Re-evaluate timelines of current projects • Be honest with clients and upper management about deadlines • Realism does not equate to a laissez faire management style • Deadlines and accountability should still exist and should be enforced • Be sure to explain to your team how you will be evaluating them in this new environment • Focus on outcomes • You cannot micromanage this one, folks! • This is a marathon, not a race (Encourage work at a sustainable pace) 14
  15. 15. STONEHILLcollege Provideformalopportunitiesforteamreflection 15 • Important Considerations: • Not a whining session or a finger-pointing session • People should feel comfortable speaking up • The result of these events should be measurable change • Identical issues coming up at each retrospective, without measurable improvement over time, may signal that the retrospective has become an empty ritual. • Major realizations: • You are not going to be good at this on the first week. • Your team is going to pick up some bad habits. • Perfection is not possible. • Because of all this, provide scheduled, formal opportunities for team reflection. • Focus on team practices, not specific projects. • One method – Heartbeat retrospectives • Three questions – aka Three Little Pigs • What should we keep doing (bricks)? • What should we keep doing but adjust (sticks)? • What should we stop doing (straw)? • Great to use a virtual whiteboard such as Miro (free)!
  16. 16. STONEHILLcollege Beempathetic,supportive,andencouraging 16 • Now is the time to put on your empathy hat • Empathetic managers: • are good listeners • form personal bonds with their team • are able to see things from another point of view • are not afraid to ask for help • This is not “warm and fuzzy” – this is good management • Encourage and support team members – let them know that you are in this for the long haul and you promise to look out for them • Increase recognition by 30-50% • Adopt the mantra of “self-care” for your entire team • Provide resources for struggling team members • Learn about your company’s EAP program
  17. 17. STONEHILLcollege Beflexible. Bepatient. Listen! 17 • Lessons learned from 10+ years of managing remote teams: • Not everything is going to work right the first time or the 40th time. • Just because it worked at the office, does not mean it will work online. • Failure is inevitable. Be prepared for it and have a contingency plan. • You have to be willing to sacrifice and meet people halfway. • Realize that we are in the midst of a global crisis. Your patience should reflect that. • Understand that this affects different people in different ways. • LISTEN!
  18. 18. STONEHILLcollege MasterofProfessionalStudiesinDataAnalytics 18 • Earn a master’s degree and SAS Academic Specialization • SAS is used at over 84,000 companies • Voted ”most important skill” by Forbes • Great for professionals who desire a lateral move or a career change • 1 year accelerated program • Hybrid low-residency - only come to class every 3 weekends • Supportive cohort model • AACSB – Accredited • For more information, visit: http://www.stonehill.edu/bigdata
  19. 19. STONEHILLcollege Resources • Books: • Influencing Virtual Teams • Working Remotely: Secrets to Success for Employees on Distributed Teams • Agile Software Development with Distributed Teams: Staying Agile in a Global World • Leader Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t • Technology • Slack, Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Jira (has lots of tools for remote working), Miro (awesome virtual white board), Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), Google Docs, Google Forms, SurveyMonkey • You can find many tools just by searching for “remote team software” 19
  20. 20. STONEHILLcollege ThankYou Michael Salé Stonehill College msale@stonehill.edu 20

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