08 May The Distributed Teams Support Series Part VII – Finding Your Operational Rhythm
At this stage of your distributed team experience, it might feel like in many respects you have made it, you have figured it out. You are getting in an operational rhythm. Yet, in many others, there are pieces of the puzzle still scattered across your digital space that you don’t quite know yet where they fit. No one has it all figured out at this point, especially if this way of working is brand new to every member of you and your team.
As the main dust settles, even if other particles arise, this is about finding your team’s specific workflow and getting your people, no matter where they are located in an operational rhythm. So how do you go about achieving this as a people leader?
1. Keep What Matters At The Centre
Your people, your customers and your product or service, these are at the core of everything you do and should remain so. See them as your foundation blocks, necessary for stability regardless of where people are located and the project they are working on. It starts here and works out. By having these at the focus, it will anchor your people’s workflow.
2. Reviewing and Adapting
One of the key factors in finding your operational rhythm is through the practice of reviewing and adapting. This refers to your processes and approaches. Take stock regularly. Take time to ask what is working and what isn’t. Take time to talk to your people about this. Maybe someone will have an idea on how to improve a system or perhaps someone’s digital silence will let you know if something is wrong. Their input and responses will lead you on this.
3. Strike The Communication Balance
As we have explored in the other chapters of this support series, your communication efforts need to be upped to respond to working as a remote team. In-person subtleties can no longer be relied on, nor can casual conversations that bridge the gaps. Are your current communication processes working? Are they inclusive? Is everyone communicating effectively? Are they supported with the right tools to meet their needs? Communication is a core element of finding your operational flow. When there is a glitch here, everything crashes.
But like all good processes, it’s about balance. This does not mean over-communicating. Find what works best for your people. The point of communication is about keeping everything clear and keeping people connected. We’d recommend instead of real-time, move to asynchronous communication. Allow people to respond when they are available rather than always-on conversation. With this approach, it’s imperative updates, and information sharing are clear. This also needs to be transparent and accessible which lets communication and processes flow. It is vital to bring your team together but only when they are needed to align.
4. Consistency Across The Board
We are consistently talking about being consistent. Because the fallout from dropping the ball on this is much more challenging to repair. It builds trust and strengthens teams, boosting engagement and productivity. People are far more likely to actively participate in a steady workflow so your processes, as well as your approach, need to be consistent to achieve this.
For example, have scheduled weekly check-ins rather than ad hoc ones, and always turn up. If two of your team members come to you with a similar problem, it’s important the response is fair and equal. Your people need to know what you expect from you. It brings a sense of stability to your team.
5. Creating A Culture Of Collaboration
Working together as a team might sound obvious, but getting this into a rhythm, especially in a distributed team is where the real magic happens. This is about creating a sense of community. People need to have their voice heard, feel supported and be included. This naturally leads to increased creativity, problem-solving, upskilling, and a culture people want to be a part of. They will set their own tone and bring better flow if they are supported with what they need to facilitate collaboration.
6. Control the Controllable
This is not the time for setting unachievable goals or focusing your energy in the wrong place. Take ownership of what you can and lead. Forget the rest, for now. They will unfold in their own time. Instead, channel the focus of your people towards what you can achieve at present.
7. Move Out Of Crisis Mode
It’s time to start moving out of the crisis headspace. It’s time to look at the next six months, and it’s time to set goals. If you didn’t catch last week’s piece on this topic, you can check it out here. It’s about focusing on achievable short term wins. Goals anchor people, especially in chaotic times and are a vital element of operational flow.
It’s also a good time to do an audit like applying our review and adapt approach, as you move into this next stage. It’s now time for investing in building; in your people, service and product. The answer to how to achieve this is by looking at what you have been doing. Empower your people to share their ideas and lead out on new projects. This will help you all get to the next phase together.
8.Acknowledgement and Gratitude
People are doing what they thought they couldn’t, and because they have to. If you want your people to find and stay in a rhythm they need to feel like it’s worth staying in. Acknowledgement and feeling valued are essential here. People get blocked from progressing when they are frustrated. This goes against your ideal operating rhythm. Say thank you and mean it. Don’t assume they know or see it as everyone has had to make sacrifices. Show gratitude for their efforts.
Overall, finding your operational rhythm is about working together. It’s about keeping everyone involved in the process and its changes. It’s about listening, communicating, responding instead of reacting and it’s about leading. If you knit these threads together, it will bring about the kind of flow that not only encourages engagement and improves productivity, but it helps create an ideal company culture; one of community and collaboration regardless of where your team is located.
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.