Communication – It is well known that communication problems are the main cause of conflict, delay, poor quality, and even failure of any project. With a dispersed team, communication becomes even more critical than with a co-located team. Depending upon the source 60-80% percent of all communication between people is non-verbal; the rest is via text or spoken words.
In order to improve communication with teams and their members, a manager should follow a few simple practices:
- Push for an initial face-to-face meeting for the entire team. This is likely to bring great resistance from above. But done right, the return-on-investment is very high. One must make this a working session, not just a “meeting”, and if possible, include a dinner at the end of the day. This gives a chance for everyone to get to know each other.
- Personally reach out to each member. It would be beneficial to find out what the members’ interests are, what they like about their work, what else they’re working on, etc. The initial meeting is a starting place for this, but the effort continues.
- Let the team get to know the leader. It is convenient to stick to business, get things done, and move on to the next task. The manager should talk to the team members if they join a call early. Call them individually to ask about their work on the Six Sigma project, or ask for any advice they may have for you. These calls can usually include some “personal” discussion. The more they know about their supervisor, the easier things will be when stressful times come.
- Get as many in-person events as one can afford. This is especially useful when major milestones are occurring, or when there are serious issues or conflicts.
- Discuss the project and its needs with the remote team members’ boss. This will help see the value of the team member, the value of the project, etc. This should be a very positive discussion and should sell that manager on you, your project and the team.
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