‘Has anyone heard from Mark?’
Variations of this message were becoming a recurring theme in your team text chat. Since you made the switch to work from home, communications from Mark were vanishingly rare. Not ideal, but he was still sending you his work on time and to standard, so you weren’t too concerned. At least, not to begin with.
But something about his near-silence was starting to make you uncomfortable, like the little cramps that develop when you sit in the same position for too long. Despite your growing concerns, this didn’t make it far up your priorities list. After all, Mark was still diligently working away. In pure people management terms, David’s incessant (and largely inappropriate) use of the group chat was a more pressing concern.
On top of that, there was the allegation of bullying that Simon had made against Emma. Strange, because the two of them used to get on so well. Yet, you have a good idea what led to it. Emma has always been a top performer, eager to exceed expectations no matter what you throw at her. Simon, on the other hand, is a more pensive character. Slow to get started, but reliable and hardworking.
The influx of new processes, procedures, and technology didn’t faze Emma in the slightest. In fact, her productivity increased significantly. Whereas Simon has struggled a little. He’s getting there and once he’s got the hang of things he’ll be your lynchpin. But Simon isn’t there yet, and unsurprisingly his productivity has dipped. Emma has noticed this, and she’s not happy.
And you? Well, you’re puzzled.
Of course, you were expecting the move to being a remote team to shift the dynamics, but not this much. When you were in the office things were far from perfect, and little conflicts erupted here and there. But, there was a lovely balance. The differences in the way you all preferred to interact and communicate were a source of strength. Though now, these same differences are driving division, discontent, and derision.
Get connected to your remote team without getting your wires crossed
Every one of us has a communication style that informs how we interact with the world around us. Equally, the world around us has a powerful effect on the way that communication style manifests. Now home working makes up the majority (or totality) of our working week, it’s natural that this will impact upon the way we engage with one another. And not necessarily for the better.
There’s a real risk that this change in circumstances will cause your people to disconnect from you and from one another. Staying connected to your people, despite the physical distance is a priority. But, if you want your efforts to bear fruit, you need to know what will cause them to drift in the first place.
Insights discovery equips you with the framework you need to identify the individual communication styles in your team. From there, you can devise strategies to keep your people engaged, content, and productive.
Here are four ideas (one for each colour preference) for remote teams to help you connect with your colleagues:
Your Fiery Reds are your problem solvers and go-getters. These people relish a challenge and are seldom rattled by changing circumstances. Your Fiery Reds will see remote working as an opportunity to eliminate inefficiencies in their working day so expect to see their productivity shoot up.
However, this enthusiasm has its drawbacks. Irritations arise when they don’t see others performing at their level. Their opinion of others can sour and left unchecked, unpleasant behaviours can follow.
How to connect with a Fiery Red
Fiery Red colleagues love a challenge, so why not give them one? If they’re exceeding expectations, offer them the opportunity to take on extra responsibilities.
Important note: extra responsibilities, not extra work. Piling on more of the same will only serve to fuel any smouldering discontent at their colleagues perceived (or actual) reduced productivity. Instead, have them mentor a junior colleague or design a new process. In return, book in one to one meetings with them to let them voice their thoughts and concerns.
Fiery Reds thrive when they’re seen and heard so some novel responsibility combined with one to one guidance could be what’s needed to build that all-important connection.
Sunshine Yellow colleagues are the social glue that holds your team together. When things are tough, they’ll be the pressure valve that squashes stress and keeps everyone smiling.
Unfortunately, as your most sociable colleagues, they’re the ones that are likely to be hit hardest by being in a remote team. Fundamentally, Sunshine Yellows are people people. For them, human interaction is grounding and a source of inspiration. Without it, they’ll find it tough to perform at their best.
How to connect with a Sunshine Yellow
Sunshine Yellow colleagues flourish in the presence of others. Obviously, getting together isn’t an option, but that doesn’t mean spontaneous social interaction has to stop.
Task your Sunshine Yellow colleagues with devising fun things for you all to do as a team. Whether that’s a regular virtual coffee hour one morning a week or setting up a virtual games night. If they’re successful in this endeavour, everyone wins.
Your Sunshine Yellow will be more focused and productive as their social needs will be met. Plus, the injection of a bit of fun will do wonders for the connectedness of your team in general.
Earth Green colleagues are your stalwarts. You can rely on them to do their job and do it well. You’ll struggle to find anyone more diligent than an experienced Earth Green.
That said, the loss of the home/office boundary can lead your Earth Greens to put in a few too many hours. This is something you want to avoid. Nobody is at their best when they feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. They simply end up stressed and exhausted, and burnout becomes an ever-present risk.
How to connect with an Earth Green
Earth Green colleagues approach their work with a forensic scrupulosity. They’re also the first to share knowledge with colleagues. Your job as a manager is to facilitate their natural assiduousness and make sure they don’t overdo it.
Simply setting aside time to take an interest in what they’re doing and make sure their needs are being met will go a long way to help you connect with a remote working Earth Green.
Consider floating some extra support their way if they say they’re struggling to get up to speed. They’ll appreciate it.
Cool Blue colleagues are analytical and fastidious in their approach to tasks. They’re also pretty good at separating work and home life, so from a productivity perspective, they’re quite well suited to remote working.
However, their firm work/life boundaries cut both ways. They’re often reluctant to jump on work-related video calls as they see them as an intrusion into their personal space. When they do ‘vanish’, keeping tabs on their welfare is impossible.
Left alone, they can overanalyse problems leading to dented productivity and soaring anxiety.
How to connect with a Cool Blue
Cool Blue colleagues need clarity. So you must communicate your expectations regularly. You’ll have to take the lead on this, as a Cool Blue is unlikely to proactively seek you out.
Don’t try to force them to speak over video chat if they don’t want to. Pick up the phone or use instant messaging instead, and make sure to leave space in the call for more light-hearted, social chat.
The same rules apply to team communications- if you’ve got a shy Cool Blue, give an old fashioned conference call a try. And, if that doesn’t work, make it clear that it’s OK for them not to turn on the webcam.
Insights Discovery: Your key to a connected remote team
No matter how cohesive your team, remote working will strain your relationships.
Over time we become familiar with the quirks and foibles of the people around us. We learn to manage them, overcome them, and even be inspired by them.
But, when circumstances change, so too do the interpersonal dynamics we take for granted.
Collaboration becomes conflict.
Structure becomes chaos.
Joy becomes misery.
Ready to reconnect?
Insights Discovery will equip you and your team with the knowledge and skills you need to overcome the communication challenges you’ll face as a remote team. You’ll leave the workshop with a deep understanding of your own communication style and a renewed appreciation for the people you work with.
Remote working is here to stay. Don’t let physical distance stop your team from being connected, happy, and healthy.
Ready to find out more? Fill in a contact form.