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4 ways to empower your remote teams

As Agile practitioners, we talk a lot about empowered teams. Just as we thought it was part of a normal office culture, the pandemic struck and we had to reinvent our ways of working.

So what does empowerment mean to our teams today? Especially given that we’re almost all working remotely to some degree.

Empowerment is often misunderstood as “we work however we want, on our terms”

Let’s be honest, are your teams really empowered or do they think it means it simply means having autonomy without accountability? Do they focus on tasks but not pull together to meet deadlines? Remote employees are often less attached to their workplace culture but they don’t have the monopoly.

What we really want is for them to engage as a team in professional and process improvement, supporting and managing their work with less senior management oversight.

That takes work from leadership, but flipping into micromanagement isn’t the answer. Here are our top tips to help empower your teams for tangible results.

Use Outcome Based Goals

Measuring time spent on a keyboard or reports of daily tasks tells us about activity, not outcomes delivered. It quickly becomes toxic and is easy to game. Set short, mid and long-term goals with timescales and a clear joint understanding of the outcomes you expect, and at the same time coach them in “how” to achieve them. You will be able to support and enable them to improve their performance in a healthy way, rather than just monitor them.

Create a sticky, virtual ecosystem

This ties into the previous point about remote employees feeling remote, not fully part of the team. Creating strong centralised hubs for each Team, product, assignment etc really makes sense. It keeps everyone focused and working from the same sources. It creates a common experience and even vocabulary. One ecosystem which is location independent. Think about including things like a Team Charter to agree on ways of working, a Skills Hub that links learning and development to their objectives, a team knowledge hub to share documentation and team chat channels.

It does require some effort to maintain, however, the payoff is a team that can access the same key material quickly and easily. The experience is the same wherever they work from and there’s nobody disadvantaged as a remote worker.

Normalise the concept of ROI

Empowered teams own their professional progress, they take pride in their learning because it impacts their performance. They have a skills map aligned to the company’s needs and work iteratively towards their skills goals. Some individuals recognise the investment that a company makes in their learning & development, whilst for others, they see it as a tick-box exercise. So this is another opportunity to engage them, by asking them to track the effectiveness of their learning and how that impacts their performance. Over time, what changes have taken place that helped them and their team grow? It helps the company ensure they realise an ROI and the individual employee feels even more valued. Win-win!

Encourage real-time feedback on achievements

So we’re not monitoring people’s time at their desks or the number of mouse clicks, but how they are progressing towards their goals. It’s great to shout out in meetings, but there’s really nothing better than genuine real-time feedback. You can track it and raise it more formally in a meeting later, but give Kudos in the moment.

Focus on achieving great outcomes by setting the right goals measured in time, creating team spirit, and implementing learning measures. That’s how we unite and empower teams, irrespective of their location.

Performalise – your teams deserve it!

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