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Clarity, Collaboration and Communications: Bringing Teams Together Anywhere and Everywhere

Confidence drives productivity, and clarity drives confidence.

In a world where teams have the freedom to work remotely, team leaders have greater responsibility to ensure every team member understands their individual assignments, and that every member on the team has a common understanding of dates, dependencies, and expectations.

Can applications contribute to high performance cultures regardless of physical location? We say yes, when those applications are simply accessed, intuitively designed, and encourage engagement by delivering an excellent user experience every time.

How has the dramatic growth of remote working changed the way leaders manage their own time, and their team’s time? While there are many benefits associated with hybrid models, including the ability to attract and retain talent, reduction of costs as the need for office space diminishes, and greater flexibility when it comes to a mix of full-time, part-time, and independently contracted workers – those responsible for managing distributed teams are confronted with new challenges.

Here are five ways modern managers can build and grow high-performance teams in a digital-first world.

Choose the Right Platform and Applications

Without a unified platform, distributed teams are often left to drift. Despite the best intentions and enthusiasm for starting important new projects, an overwhelming amount of email, asynchronous messages, lost meeting invitations, multiple document drafts, and more can frustrate and demoralize contributors. With too many tools (for example one manager prefers Slack, another prefers Google Drive, another prefers Dropbox, another prefers Box), streamlining becomes impossible, while also putting organizations at risk given the dispersion of company information across open platforms. Selecting a proven solution and pairing that with a friendly experience using an application layer that makes collaboration fun, on a desktop or mobile device, eliminates confusion and reduces costs – and risks.

Commit to Clarity

Modern managers earn their promotions from early on in their careers and have likely experienced the difference between working for a distant, disorganized manager and a caring, well-organized manager, and understand that to continually evolve, success takes commitment to communicating, constantly and precisely, what is important not only in the short and long run, but in the moment. The most successful leaders in the world – whether they are business leaders, executive directors at non-profit organizations, elected or appointment government officials, teachers, entertainers, innovators, and others – are great communicators who understand the power of expression. They focus and inspire others to focus, and they are highly aware of what others need to contribute greatly to the mission.

Communicate Strategically and Often – Enough

Modern managers also understand that while teams are asked to get things done, ultimately individuals are the ones getting the real work done. Just because a manager has selected the right productivity platform doesn’t mean that the application needs to be as addictive as social media, for example. There are times when teams work best while they are together and exchanging ideas in a live setting, and there are times when individuals and smaller work groups need to think deeply, do their research, develop their content, test their theories, analyze their results, report on those results, and otherwise fine-tune whatever their contribution happens to be. Getting the right “noise to signal” ratio is an artform that has taken on new meaning in the hybrid world of work. Knowing not only what to communicate but when to communicate is key to effectively motivating and managing distributed teams.

Praise in Public, Criticize in Private

This long-held advice is as important in a virtual workspace as it is in a traditional office setting, and while there may not be those “cringeworthy” moments happening in a conference room, cafeteria, open office space, or even worse in client meetings, workers are still human beings, and many are highly sensitive. Often, email communications can be misunderstood, or can be seen as an appropriate way to scold or shame individuals (as the sender can hide behind a computer screen). The most admired and respected leaders understand how to use communications channels to coach, knowing when a one-on-one voice call is best, or when a short text message can send a brief but pointed suggestion, or when individuals or teams can be recognized in a video collaboration session including virtual high-fives. While ensuring teams have access to the best tools, how those tools are optimized to generate the most productive outcomes often starts with a positive outlook, combined with common sense and sensitivity.

Learn to Listen in New Ways

With so much work happening online, during off hours, with team members in different time zones, and personal preferences for how individuals use common tools, modern managers don’t have access to certain things including the “non-verbal” cues we all understand hold important meaning. The most successful leaders are great listeners, but with new channels and streams, and a constantly changing mix of real time and asynchronous interactions, managers can benefit from tuning up new skills so they don’t miss important signals that can help them help the individuals they are responsible for. With active listening across all the channels, managers can help their team members build confidence – which is key to high performance, quality contributions and paves the way for high potential talent to advance in their careers and become the next great future manager. Just because the team is rarely together or in some cases never together in person doesn’t mean that mentorship and fellowship are no longer part of a winning formula. They matter more than ever.

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