As companies look at their performance reviews this year, more managers realize that it will take more than goals, rules and commitment to achieve set targets in distributed teams and remote working.
It will take deeper conversations with your team. And this does not mean following the communication rules set by the Organization alone. This means really talking to your teams. Having conversations that introduce new ideas, build commitment and care and create an environment for teamwork and communication.
The path to better engagement and performance especially in distributed teams lies in positive, solution focused conversations. Talking positive is not just being pleasant and talking nice.
Positive, solution focused conversations are –
Conversations that speak of future possibilities by focusing on the preferred future instead of dwelling on the current state.
Conversations where the dialogue is deeper and builds strong relationships
Conversations that align action with aspiration and accountability.
In remote teams how do we have such positive, solution focused conversations? Creating an engaging and high-performance team depends on having the following three positive, solution focused conversations.
The Temperature check
The way we check the weather before stepping out, it is imperative that we check the emotional temperature of the group before we start any meeting. This is more important in remote teams connecting virtually as we have no idea about the employee’s situation beyond the chat window. The temperature check is a conversation that will bring people to the same emotional and conversational page. Consider this as the banks of a river. Getting this conversation right will ensure that the conversation flows smoothly along with the current.
You are a manager who wants to announce the next steps in the project. Not having your team on the same conversational page will mean you lose the opportunity to build initiative and commitment to the project. This will lead to lack of interest, team not working in sync resulting in low performance. A quick temperature check conversation will help you understand the space each of the members are and by inviting them to the conversation, will ensure better receptivity and commitment in your meeting.
The Engaging Conversation
People do want to understand, engage, fit in and belong in a team. Therefore, if you design your conversations to ensure you deliver this engagement, you automatically build trust and commitment. Engaging conversations help team own up and perform better. The purpose of an engaging conversation is to give your team the opportunity to interact and gain positive meaning of their role in the larger goal. People who know why they are working and how their role fits into the larger scheme of the team’s and Organization’s mission feel they contribute better and are more loyal.
The engaging conversation should allow for people to explore, ask questions, brainstorm and become comfortable with change. As a manager ensuring you listen deeply at this stage will take the conversation to a deeper level. As you listen, listen not just for the facts that are said. Listen for the conversations that not happening and initiate them. Listen for the emotions and work with them. An engaging conversation sets the stage for performance and culture.
The Performance Conversation
Performance conversations are action oriented. They deal with the what was promised, what is delivered, how can we better this, who and how will it be done kind of conversations. As a manager if you know how to get others to perform at their peak and what to speak to get work done, you are worth your weight in gold. How do we ensure teams promise their best and deliver it every time?
Your conversation should align their individual aspirations to the said actions and accountability. To have a positive performance conversation, have the goal setting conversation by including individual aspirations of the team. A SMART Goal maybe good for the project, but ensuring goals are set by including individual’s aspirations would ensure commitment and better performance. The next alignment is with the actual action, connecting individual aspiration to goals of the team. Developmental feedback, regular performance conversations and support ensures better performance. Often, what lacks at this stage is the accountability. Aligning individual and team goals is fine, but the acid test is in the actual performance and the team’s integrity to get work done. Ensuring clear accountability is set and the support systems to ensure work gets done is also in place ensures teams even in remote places can work towards their goals.
Your conversations are your personal advantage. How you use them decides the success in your team. Talk positive, and allow the engagement and performance to go viral.