This is part of the ‘Ask Tristan’ series. If you have a question, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Tristan, do you have any tips for keeping geographically dispersed teams engaged with each other as well as the company as a whole? Communication seems to be the key, but how do we ensure it’s 100% quality, 100% of the time? – ED.
A: Dear ED,
Great question. You’ve asked about something which is very close to my heart, communication!
In my experience, it’s super-important to make sure both organised and incidental communication happen as often as possible within your entire team.
Organised communication could involve a scheduled phone call between a remote team member and their manager/mentor/buddy every friday at 2pm. This type of call is something that becomes part of your meeting rhythm, it’s locked in to both people’s calendars and has an agenda.
Incidental communication is much less structured but equally important. It can involve people calling each other or bumping into each other without having it planned or having it locked into their calendar. It’s simply out of the blue, informal communication. Everyone likes to receive a call from a manager or workmate just to say ‘How are you?” / “Is there anything I can help with?” / “Thanks for your help”. Creating an environment where incidental communication happens as often as possible will help engage your team more than anything else.
As far as ensuring communication is 100% quality, 100% of the time: you can’t! You have to trust people. This is a tough one to become comfortable with, but, if you have the right people on your team, you train them and then you support them, you have to trust them to do the right thing. Building trust is one of the most important parts of building a great place to work.