You have finally assembled your A-team. You’ve got every puzzle piece you need to bring your vision to life. So, why aren’t you seeing the results you want? Finding the right people to join you in your endeavors is integral to your success. But it’s just the first step.
To cultivate an organization capable of achieving your goals, you also need to connect your team to your mission and to each other. But how do you keep them connected? Simple – engage your team.
A Common Modern Conundrum
Businesses both big and small skip this step all the time. They often forget that just because you get all the ingredients for a great recipe doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve baked the cake. This becomes exponentially more problematic when you’re dealing with a global team, which forms the backbone of many startups and ventures these days.
Global teams offer organizations a plethora of possibilities, such as reaching new markets or maintaining a consistent brand experience around the world. But if the members of your team don’t feel engaged, they won’t be connected to each other or your company’s vision. And even one disengaged member can cause ripples through your team and make your ship sink.
This is common with remote employees, who often bear the brunt of less-than-equitable conditions, which can take on a variety of forms. For example, it’s not uncommon for remote team members to adjust their schedule to what’s best for the majority of the team. Additionally, these members probably don’t have access to the team leaders as much as their “core” counterparts. As a result, their ideas and concerns may not get their fair share of attention, which can be detrimental to decision-making for the company.
Unfortunately, this can lead to members feeling underutilized, undervalued, and out of the loop. This can eventually damage the team’s overall performance. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to engage your team efficiently and keep them on the path to success.
Make Communication Count for More
Technology is what makes global teams possible in the first place, so why not ensure that you’re optimizing this avenue for communication? There are a host of tools that streamline workflows by simplifying meeting notes, organizing actionable items, etc. It’s highly encouraged that you do some due diligence and experimentation to find what’s best for your team. Finding a system that takes care of small but necessary tasks like scheduling appointments allows you to focus on your team and mission more.
There are also some general strategies you can employ, regardless of what communication platform or tool you’re using. It’s widely believed that video is the future of online media, and for good reason. It’s an enriched communication interface that allows you to engage your team on a deeper level and build a better connection with them, no matter where they are. If you can, have regular conference calls and personal check-ins with your team through video.
During these meetings, it’s important to keep conversation fluid, natural, and personal. Because let’s face it: nobody wants to follow a robot. Your team needs to know that you’re a real person. Share stories. Create an open dialogue with open-ended questions. Regularly ask for feedback. Encourage their opinions and ideas.
Listening to each of your team members shines a light on the impact they’re having. It shows that you respect them. In turn, they will grow to respect you as a leader.
Bear Burdens Equally
Often, what determines if someone is a remarkable leader is how he or she handles the unremarkable tasks. Ensure that not a single one of your team members is stuck carrying the slack for the rest of the team. As previously mentioned, remote team members often get the short end of the stick with regard to scheduling convenience due to their distance away and different time zone.
To combat this, a good practice would be to rotate the time of your weekly meetings so that no one team member is inconvenienced every time. Of course, this is not always practical; if that’s the case, then figuring out the least inconvenient meeting times for your most remote employees is the next best solution. Don’t discredit these tiny details. Even something as small—like noting the meeting time in each time zone you have a remote member in—goes a long way towards showing your team that you value them.
Scheduling is far from the only category that this type of thinking can be applied to. Take some time to investigate other ways you can level the playing field for your team members.
Give Credit Where It’s Due
To truly engage your team, it’s absolutely vital that you recognize the achievements of your team members. No accomplishment is too small, and nothing inspires your employees like acknowledging the value they’ve brought to the table. Just as you should take some time during your one-on-one talks to discuss any concerns, you should also regularly review your employee’s recent contributions.
At the end of the day, your team members are the people you’ve entrusted to move your business forward. Let them know when you’re happy with their work. Not only does this make them feel valued and let them know they have a future with your company, but it also reaffirms behaviors and actions you’d like to see them continue to do.
This is a simple principle in concept, but you’d be surprised how often this practice of gratitude is neglected in many organizations.
Take a Good, Hard Look at Yourself
To implement any of the strategies mentioned so far, start with the constant in each of these equations: yourself. This can seem like a nebulous effort, but a great concrete way of breaking this down methodically is to ask yourself these questions: Are you exhibiting any cultural bias? Would you consider yourself a good role model?
Cultural bias can be difficult to detect. It requires you to view things from an objective perspective. Examine your assumptions. A great place to begin is with what you assume to be good participation. Is the dialogue between your team and you really open? Have there been any times where a team member tries to get a point across, but it doesn’t resonate with you because of the way it’s delivered?
Each team member has a different way of discussing their opinions. Are you taking them into account equally? If team leaders are not vigilant about their own cultural biases, it’s rare for anyone else on the team to correct them.
Similarly, pay close attention to your interactions with your team members. You set the standard for a candid culture. Are you acting in a way that aligns with your idea of an ideal team environment? Developing this self-awareness early on not only helps you become the leader you want to be, but it also shapes your group into the A-team you always knew they could become when you hired them.
A Work In Progress
Regardless of what industry you’re in, what venture you’re pursuing, or what product you’re trying to create, your success usually boils down to how you engage your team. It’s a task that’s certainly easier said than done. But if you put in the time, energy, and effort to do so, the return on investment can be exponential.
These concepts may not feel world-changing. But like most revolutionary ideas, the results you get from earnestly striving to improve your team dynamic will confirm how profound these strategies really are. Try a few of them out. You’ll be surprised how much they catalyze the commitment and engagement of your team. It will bring you closer to realizing your vision than ever before.