Do associates in your company receive adequate training to work in flexible and remote teams? Is your management team receiving regular coaching in how to be effective leaders in flexible organizations? Many of the management approaches in traditional organizations do not apply in flexible organizations. The challenges in flexible and remote teams are different from traditional teams. It takes new strategies and a certain set of skills to effectively manage them. The three important areas that leaders of flexible teams need to master are: communication, collaboration, and confidence.
Communication is not only the key to relationships it’s the key to success in flexible teams. Even the greatest challenges can be overcome with effective team communication. Team members need to know what each other is doing and be able to effectively share information. However, the challenges when working in flexible teams may be different. For example, what does an “open door policy” mean in flexible and remote teams? Does it mean that you can Skype your team leader at all time or does it refer to email? Also, how do you address the challenges of building team cohesion and building a rapport among team members? Team building activities in the office or even outside the office are used in traditional teams. However, remote teams have to find virtual ways to build cohesion. Team leaders also need training in how to lead by asking more questions than issuing commands.
In teams, everyone has a different job that are interconnected. The nature of team work is collaboration. The shift to virtual collaboration can be challenging for team members that are used to working in the same physical office. This can additionally be challenging when working with teams from diverse backgrounds, as mentioned in our article The Key to Unlocking Your Organization’s Potential. Cultural vocal cues and body language can be missed or easily misunderstood when communicating primarily through text, microphones, and web cameras. Managers of remote teams will need training in how to effectively use virtual communication tools for collaboration.
If a team is to be effective, members must have a certain level of trust and confidence in each other. Teams must be able to trust that their team members will contribute to the team effort. The challenges of confidence and trust increase with flexible and remote teams. Many times managers that are new to managing flexible teams may default to micromanaging, which is not the most effective approach. Managers of flexible and remote teams will need training in how to effectively build confidence among team members as well as to build their own confidence in their teams.
The nature of work is changing as more organizations are more and more organizations are starting to work flexible. As flexible organizations attract more diverse and global talent they will have to make sure that leaders are well equipped to manage them effectively. For many organizations, leadership training is simply another expense. But in reality, equipping leaders to be well-prepared to lead a flexible workforce is an investment in long term success.