10 Apr The Distributed Teams Support Series Part III – Adapting To A Changing Process
As dealing with change becomes a regular activity, leading it becomes a skill to hone, an internal capacity to master. – Arnaud Henneville-Wedholm
Working as part of a distributed team is an ongoing process full of change. The key to success as a manager is not only how you adapt to it, but leading your people through it. You do this by supporting them in their adaptation. There are a few key areas to focus on in relation to this. Let’s explore them and how best to acclimatise to an evolving system.
You need to take time to take stock. Review and reflect. What needs to be achieved? Do the tasks you had when you left the office now need to be reprioritised? Have you lots of new ones to do to get others fully set up to support their work? A lot has changed so this may or may not alter your priorities, but you need to consider them all. Either way, once you nail this down, you will be cementing the core block needed to get into your workflow, even if everything around it is still up in the air. It’s up to you as a people leader to anchor things.
Set The Tone
With this in mind, don’t forget that you set the tone and you need to. Your people need you to. If you would like your people to remain positive and keep their energy up, then lead by example and do the same. This isn’t just in the best interest of the business, but everyone’s best interest. It brings order and the ideal approach to what is a displaced working environment. The same way you walk into an office, and you can see and feel the company culture, you need to set the tone for your people here, even if it’s digitally done.
It’s time to get back on track. Your goals are of great importance and you must make sure they are the right ones for now. You must ensure that, especially if they change, there is alignment across teams and company goals. Also, they need to be achievable. For the moment and in times of uncertainty, think short-term. For example, what can you and your team achieve over the next six weeks? If you keep it within a reasonable time-frame, it’s easier to measure and manage as well as adapt to what comes up.
Working remotely effectively takes time. It’s not until you are trying to work outside the office environment you realise all the subtle structures in place that support you in getting your work done. Your people are acclimatising to their new way of working, but you can support them in moving through change by providing them with structure. The same goes for your customers.
For example, propose to run daily digital stand-ups, weekly updates, management check-ins or customer sessions throughout this time, keeping everything as business as usual as possible. It also gives people something to work from and provides much-needed structure during adjustment periods.
As you and your people shift to more asynchronous communication, there need to be other factors that connect you and your processes. This is where good relationships come in. Once the structures are in place, it’s about taking a step to the side, rather than back, and making space for your people to get on with deep work. This is about trust, and you need to build it, so it remains a consistent force during change.
Another way of building trust is through transparency which your people need more than ever right now. They need to be able to see the different stages of a project and their responsibilities in the process as well as others, so they know where they stand as well as which direction to go to move things forward.
This is the most crucial point. Change is happening for all of your people, and this challenges everyone’s headspace. Having 1:1s are especially important right now. Make a point of having no set agenda to start but focus on listening to your people. Find out their concerns as well as their priorities and most vitally, how they are feeling. You can slowly incorporate work from there and be open to resetting deliverables. The personal side of work needs to take the steering wheel this time.
You also need to continue to provide them with what they need to do their work. Whatever resources or replies are required, it’s important you stay on top of that. This will keep people energised and everyone will see and feel the benefits of being an active productive participant in this newfound process as it unfolds.
Adapting to a changing process requires willingness, flexibility, patience and effective communication. These are qualities your people will need to see in you and inspire within them to move forward together and to overcome whatever challenges you face. This way, instead of change disconnecting your people, it unifies them. But this starts with you. Does your current approach reflect this? If not, we’ve always operated on the philosophy of ‘think big, act small’ approach, and this is no different. It’s possible to start today and make subtle changes that help you and your people navigate through a continually evolving process, successfully.
At times like this, we think it’s most important we come together as a community and look after our people.
If there’s anything we at Frankli can do to support you, whether you are an existing customer or not, please get in touch. We are here to help.