When managing a remote team, it is more important than ever to ensure your team members feel valued.
Remote workers may feel isolated, overwhelmed, or anxious in the face of current uncertainties, while also juggling work and family responsibilities. They may also be dealing with changing business priorities, evolving team dynamics, and unpredictable work schedules. While your team may not be able to see you or their co-workers face-to-face at the moment, it is possible to make them feel seen and valued for the unique talents and contributions they bring to your team.
Recognize people as individuals
The first step to making everyone on your team feel valued is getting to know them as individuals — and this includes understanding their unique situations.
No matter who we are or where we live, all of us are impacted in some way by the current global pandemic, but each of our experiences is different and profoundly personal. Some may not have the proper resources to work from home in a shared space. Many may be balancing full-time parenting or homeschooling with a full-time workload. Some may be caring for a sick loved one, or struggling with their own anxiety or depression. Others may be dealing with a family job loss. And there will be those who experience the death of a friend or family member from this pandemic.
If you haven’t already, make sure to:
- Give permission for flexibility — Show your team members empathy. Respect their ability to manage their time the way they need to in order to be productive and reduce stress.
- Check in at the top of every meeting — Distraction is a given right now; make time for everyone to express what’s on their minds before diving into the task at hand. Not only will you have a more focused meeting, but you’ll strengthen your relationships and build trust.
Each of us also have different communication preferences and personality types. Extroverts may be more inclined to switch their computer camera on for meetings, while introverts may feel drained by the constant visibility. Similarly, public recognition may work for some, but be embarrassing for others. Customizing your approach to giving appreciation makes everyone feel seen and valued.
- Get to know each person’s personality and working style — Using a tool like Insights Discovery can ensure you’re communicating and collaborating in ways that work best for each member of your team.
- Make cameras optional — Turning your camera on during a virtual meeting offers great visibility for leaders. It emphasizes their “human” side and shows vulnerability (you never know who, or what, might enter the picture!). But remember to let people know that it’s also okay to keep their camera off if they need a break from too much visibility.
- Be mindful about scheduling meetings — If you lead a global team, you likely know the importance of not scheduling a midnight call in Bangalore. In today’s meeting-packed world, respecting “time zones” may have new meaning for people homeschooling their children, providing elder care, or balancing new schedules. Think about whether you really need that meeting before you schedule it (or if an email could suffice), and check in with an employee if you suspect they have personal limitations.
Prioritize two-way communication
One of the best ways to make people feel valued when managing a remote team is through frequent and honest communication. Being open and transparent about the state of the business, challenges you’re experiencing, and the expectations you have of the team sends a message that you prioritize your team members and the role they play in the organization. Involving them in the conversation and asking good questions can ensure a two-way dialogue that encourages collaboration and builds trust.
Keep recognition top-of-mind
Recognition is one of the main ways you can make your team members feel valued. When you acknowledge someone’s efforts it says, “I see you and the great job you’re doing.” Give positive feedback often, and encourage your team to give input on who gets recognized, and how, to show them their opinions matter.
- Put employees first, especially during busy times — People managers and leaders face a lot of competing priorities right now. Don’t let operating norms like recognition, weekly check-ins, or performance evaluations slip. Employees rely on them for consistency; treating them as expendable may send the wrong message.
- A little recognition goes a long way — These days, it’s all about the little things. Colleagues everywhere are finding innovative ways to connect and support each other. Implement small peer-to-peer recognition initiatives (like a High Five Award or Blue Beyond’s Hula Cat award) to allow people to show their appreciation for each other.
- Incorporate service — Many companies are finding ways to give back amid the global health crisis. Turn this into an opportunity for employees to share their personal passions and feel more connected to your company’s philanthropic efforts. Let them decide where resources are donated, or invite them to share the ways they are giving back.
- See a strength, name it — The greatest gift you can give a team member is to let them know when you see them excelling. Impressed by their ability to deliver difficult information to a client or customer? Tell them — and be specific. You’ll boost their confidence and encourage more of this strength in the process.
Managing a remote team may make it feel harder to connect with your people — but taking practical steps to make them feel seen and valued as individuals can bridge the gap and ensure everyone stays engaged, motivated, and productive.