While we all stumble into remote working and somehow manage to get by, building and managing a distributed team is a daunting exercise. Misunderstandings and miscommunication can quickly damage team morale, and the workdays can feel like an endless stream of calls and messages.
Few people have been trained on how to lead distributed teams. It’s a new discipline that many of our natural human senses aren’t attuned to. All social shifts require adjustment (think of office space and office dynamics over the last 30 years), especially as new technology is incorporated into everyday life.
Making remote teams successful, isn’t just about mastering new tools. What really makes a team successful is how the team works together. When understanding how to lead remote teams much can be gained from insights into behavioural science (from great minds like Thaler, Kahneman & Eyal), team psychology and effectiveness research (from powerhouses like Google), and change management processes (like ADKAR)—valuable resources for creating effective Team Working Agreements.
Team Working Agreements help team members understand how to work together to increase team effectiveness. In a distributed team’s world, a good working agreement covers a range of topics—from online etiquette to technology and decision making. However, they not only set expectations for how the team works together, but it’s also built around and promotes psychological safety.
Google went on a quest to build the perfect team (Project Aristotle) and found psychological safety to have the highest impact on team effectiveness. In fact, much research points to it being the greatest indicator of high-performing teams.
Developing psychological safety in a team requires clarity of decision-making processes, how information is shared, and the development of good behaviours between team members. By allowing teams to co-create these agreements, and by making “behaviour experiments” rather than “laws”, the team safely evolves its own rule-set that naturally gains consensus. This is done within a larger corporate culture, so the team leaders role is always to ensure alignment within the organisation.
While all of the theory and research is great, where do you actually start?
We have created a 10-minute “Remote Team Maturity” assessment designed to show how developed your team is along their remote working path. The assessment covers various different areas of work, is based on reported behaviours from each team member, and helps to quantify remote team effectiveness.
We also have a practical guide—called Me We Us—written by our practice experts who lead, manage and work with distributed teams daily. It’s a collection of actionable insights and tools to help you thrive while working with, and leading, remote teams.
In the book, we unpack 7 aspects all teams face in settling on a Team Working Agreement and the tools you can use to promote psychological safety—from etiquette and rituals to decision making and task management. Download your free copy of the book and use our templates and formulas designed to help you create effective working agreements for your remote team.
We would love to hear your feedback and how we can help you strengthen your remote teams.
Get in touch with us, firstname.lastname@example.org.