Whether we like it or not, we have all had remoteness thrust upon us – and, indeed, some don’t only like it, they love it! No dressing up, no long commute, no queuing for sandwiches.
But the downside? Wall to wall Zoom calls, using personal space for work, juggling responsibilities.
In addition, leaders worry about how they can engage team members and build a healthy culture when they are interviewing, recruiting, inducting and managing people remotely. And some well-known employers are saying ‘keep working from home’ to their employees. So, how can leaders build a strong, engaged, remote team?
Whether working remotely or not, the regular team meeting is THE team development tool – but few leaders recognise this, and team meetings are seen more as a duty than an opportunity. Regular meeting? Agenda circulated? All in attendance? All updates covered? Action list distributed? Cue lack of energy.
Before you read any further, think about how you would like your team to change over the next 12 months? Would you like it to be more strategic, proactive, collegiate? Then think about how you could use your regular team meeting to develop these qualities. Let’s imagine that you want to build a more collegiate team where people share ideas and support each other. You can tell the team that you want them to be more collegiate – it’s good advice that may work. Or, at your next team meeting, you can invite members of the team to acknowledge colleagues who have supported them. This sends a really strong message: ‘we are encouraged to be collegiate on this team’.
My take on leadership is that it happens through a series of important conversations – most of them 1:1: interview, induction, goal-setting, delegation, feedback, performance management, coaching, etc. While each of these conversations can develop the individual – it is the team meeting that supports the development of collective leadership: they are usually the only time and place where the whole team is together and can ‘do’ being a team: they are the equivalent of the family dinner: a time to stay connected, support each other and have the odd spat.
The trust-building that takes place ensures that the discussion and decision-making are high quality, that all team members are able to be really honest, to take risks, to air doubts. To step into ownership of team issues and be part of the collective leadership.
Taking the time to plan and run really good meetings is tough on leaders who are already under pressure – but it’s absolutely essential – and I am working more and more with leaders to help them to maximise the opportunity the team meeting presents – and how the leader’s behaviour needs to change so that others can step up.
At a practical level, a carefully devised, energy-led agenda, based on team priorities (rather than a standard agenda) is a good starting point. Inviting team members to share successes and challenges makes the meeting a place of learning. Having great questions ready will stimulate debate on the team. Inviting team members, individually or in pairs, to make short presentations on work they are planning, doing or have completed leads to an exchange of ideas.
Creating a sense of collective leadership on the team goes to the heart of the leader’s role. It means focusing more on the long-term, on developing talent, and harnessing individual and team energy in achieving the team’s purpose. It is frustrating, exhilarating and well worth the effort. At Sheridan Resolutions we work with individual leaders and teams to support them in this work.
Following a career that spanned finance, marketing and public affairs, Julia Rowan has been working with leaders and teams throughout Europe for over 20 years, as an executive and team coach. She brings a systemic approach to her work and is known for helping individuals and teams get to the heart of their issues quickly and build sustainable solutions. Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org