There are not so many elements that can motivate an employee more than a strong connection with the team. Human connection creates trust and trust helps us work more effectively together which sustains a drive to overachieve.
As a leader, you have to sustain, motivate and guide your team to reach their goals. However, you won't be able to accomplish this if your team doesn't feel a sense of trust in you.
One of the best things you can do to establish that connection with your team is to focus on building strong personal relationships with them. It takes time and effort, but maintaining those relationships is well worth it to have a committed, collaborative team.
For co-located companies, closeness happens organically over lunch or coffee breaks.
But how does this apply to a remote team?
Remote teams can be very close-knit, but the distance requires better planning and effort. Not to worry; you’ll just rely more on the organization and less on the coffee machines.
Here’s a look at how we make connectivity a priority at Upstack.
1. Weekly meetings
Every Tuesday we share an update with the team where we keep everybody informed about the news, plans, ideas. This is a great way to share information with our core team who works around the world from about 5 different places, in different time zones.
Weekly updates have a few key advantages: you’ll have more time to plan and revise what’s shared.
The best part of these meetings? They serve as part of the glue that keeps your team together.
When your whole team is involved in the same video meeting room, it creates a shared experience that everyone can talk about.
Starting 1on1s can be outside our comfort zone at first. Despite nodding vigorously at all notions of “the team being everything,” many folks have trouble committing, and these all-important sessions are soon dropped.
There's no need for that! Regular face-to-face time remains crucial even after you’ve settled in. In a great working environment, there's no substitute for 1on1s. These can expose some issues early, serve as the catch-all for getting ideas, thoughts, and concerns on the table, and give you time to connect with your team lead.
3. Collaboration tools
Remote employees can feel isolated unless proactive steps are taken to ensure inclusion. To prevent feelings of exclusion/isolation and to help keep every team member in the loop, use real-time collaboration tools that capture the entire discussion around projects, plans, and progress—and display it in full view of the entire team by creating channels, groups and keeping everything transparent.
Tools like Slack are much more transparent than email for project-related communication, and they ensure that valuable input and feedback doesn’t get lost in the email inbox dumpster fire. Here's how building a team culture using Slack feels at Upstack.
4. Meet in person
Video updates or collaboration tools can help with connectivity, that's a fact - but they can’t replace spending time together in person and building a social connection.
Once or twice a year (or whenever the opportunity arises) our core company gets together. With a few team meetings and plenty of fun activities, they give us a chance to hang out as a group and learn a lot about each other.
This kind of activity is no small commitment, especially when it comes to distributed teams, but the bonds built are meaningful and won’t happen through a virtual meeting.
Here are some pictures from our last get-together (Brasov, Romania):
A well-connected team is key
Our remote setup enables our distributed team to work wherever they’re happiest and that freedom is a much-valued perk that Upstack teammates enjoy. Our employees feel trusted to be in control of their job, and for us, we enjoy less overhead and the benefit of hiring without the confines of geography. When teams are connected, that interdependency promotes trust and the open flow of ideas which benefits your employees and clients. For remote teams, lightly structured virtual activities and shared information help create interactions that build trust and that trust translates to higher employee engagement, retention, and productivity.