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How to build a successful remote team

The secret to a successful and collaborative team isn’t about shared behaviours, personalities or attitudes, but instead creating an environment in which enabling conditions are the norm. Based on J. Richard Hackman’s pioneering work, we’ve served up the four most integral conditions for successful teams.

The 4 D’s of Teams

Diverse, Dispersed, Digital, and Dynamic. The four D’s of the current state of most teams in 2021. Teams such as these already have an advantage over teams of the past. Having a tem consisting of a mix of local and cosmopolitan members brings a blend of technical knowledge and skills across many different situations, whilst the locals bring ideas and insight relevant to a specific area’s culture & identity.

Supportive context

An appropriate support network is essential for a thriving team. This must include a reward system for when a team is performing well, or overachieving, as well as for identifying when and why performance levels are not where they should be. This doesn’t necessarily mean that support can only come from a team’s manager, colleagues need to be encouraged to support each other. Creating a culture of transparency within a team will allow its members to empathise with the challenges that each other face and foster a shared support network to work together.

Shared mindset

Diverse and distant teams, especially those who mainly communicate by digital means, do run the risk of developing an “us vs them” mentality and incomplete information. The answer is to develop a shared mindset within the team and this can be done by leadership curating a common identity and shared understanding. Historically, teams consisted of homogeneous face to face members with similar mindsets. But the complexity of 4-D teams means that groups often think of themselves as individuals or small subgroups within a team. Leadership must invest time in ensuring all subgroups feel their contributions are valued when working toward a common goal. Another solution can be regular informal get-togethers, this can be done virtually and teams can be encouraged to discuss anything from work to their latest Netflix binge – keep it fun and snappy at no more than 20 minutes!

Evaluating Your Team

How will you know if your team is performing well? Or that your efforts to improve them are having an impact? Hackman suggests that measuring your team on output, collaborative ability, and members’ individual development to be the most effective measuring stick. We think consistent light-touch monitoring for keeping the ship steady, with a deeper investigation should problems arise. Every few months you may want to rate your team on the above criteria. If you need to look deeper into an underperforming team, block off some time to engage with team members in open and safe space conversations about the challenges they face during their workday.