As technology advances, geography is exceedingly becoming the least of our concerns while working with remote teams. Over the past few years, the growing popularity of remote teams has given rise to a new set of team meeting etiquette. These protocols can help newcomers as well as seasoned team leaders to plan and facilitate meetings with remote teams to take full advantage of technology and enhance productivity with the best and brightest minds in the team.
The following protocol tips can help you with remote team meetings whether you use mobile or video for the purpose.
Setting expectations for the team
Before you begin on the project, or even the meeting, you must set expectations for everyone involved.
Set the goals
The first step is to set the common goal for the team. While it seems like an obvious choice, setting goal for a remote team is critical to foster close collaboration between team members. Everyone must be aware of what they have have to achieve and work together to make it happen.
Define roles and responsibilities
Defining the roles and responsibilities for each team member is the next crucial step. These roles and responsibilities often mirror traditional teams like leader, facilitators, scribe etc. However, some roles may be unique to the remote team’s structure. For example, an assistant to the facilitator who keeps an eye on every member and makes sure they are all participating equally in the meeting. He may send out a private message to the leader or facilitator if any of the members are not doing so. He may also keep tabs on everyone’s tasks as assigned in the meeting and keep in touch with them offline to ensure that each member is meeting their deadlines so that the team may perform as expected.
Let the team reach a decision
The entire team must be made aware of their responsibility to reach a decision, either by consensus, unanimity, or following the decisions of the team leader or upper management. While unanimity is often hard to achieve, consensus can be an excellent way to reach a decision. This way, the team can also accommodate any conflicting views of one or a set of members who may present a different approach to solving a problem. The third option is the least favored among teams, whether remote or traditional since it makes them feel isolated and disengaged from the process of decision making.
Ensure that the facilitator is a skilled people-manager
A traditional setting allows you to gauge the participation levels of group by observing their body language. However, in a remote meeting, your people-management skills are tested to their limits. Therefore, the person entrusted with the facilitation duties must have the following people-management skills in abundance -
The facilitator must be very observant and highly adept at providing accurate and constructive feedback to the team, acknowledge all ideas from the team and give proper attribution to the members for their ideas. He must also be aware of the need to maintain strict confidentiality at all times.
It’s a given, whether in a traditional team setting or a remote team - communication is the backbone of a team’s efficiency. The facilitator of a remote team, however, must be skilled enough to engage members through passive and active listening at all times. Acknowledging them for their ideas, or reinforcing their strengths, or even acknowledging the fact that there’s still some more work left for the team to be able to deliver a viable solution and backing their decision can go a long way in establishing the facilitator’s role.
Maintaining cultural sensitivity
The point about shrinking geographies gives rise to a multicultural, multiethnic, global team that requires a language that everyone understands. The facilitator of a remote team must be equipped with the skills to maintain cultural sensitivity towards each member of the team so that no message is lost in translation at any point. Using jargon, analogies, slangs, idioms and acronyms is a strict no-no. Talking slow and clear so that everyone can fully understand what’s being said, and checking with everyone periodically to ensure no one’s lagging behind can go a long way in increasing the team’s efficiency.
Building a great team is not always an easy task. It requires an embedded culture of collaboration and teamwork within the organization as a whole. However, the challenges that a remote team with its multicultural background brings with it can put the strongest of company cultures to test. The success of such a team depends on communications, and the success of communication depends on protocols. When these criteria are met, there’s nothing that can stop remote teams from delivering the best results for a business.