How to keep remote team members engaged

crossculture2go Coach Eva Gaborikova supports remote multinational teams when engagement goes down and people feel disconnected and tired. 

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Several months ago, the whole world turned upside down and without any warning many employees became virtual leaders, virtual colleagues and team-mates. At the beginning, people were happy to avoid traffic jams and the morning rush. Suddenly, they had more time to enjoy their coffee and their families.

However, one month later companies and their leaders started to face real challenges as engagement went down and people felt disconnected and tired. The question “How to keep remote team members engaged?” became “a hot thought” in the heads of many team leaders.

As an intercultural consultant supporting multinational teams all over the world for more than 15 years, I would recommend the following strategies:

1 – Give employees a sense of closeness

Never forget to devote a few minutes to small talk and encourage team members to share their latest news. As they come from different cultures, do not push them to talk about topics which may feel inappropriate in their culture. Just give them the freedom and encourage them to choose their favorite topics to build a tie with their team.

2 – Foster closer relationships in a team

To compensate the lack of face-to-face interactions, it’s always helpful to arrange casual hangouts or offer time slots for private talks.

As a virtual leader, schedule unofficial meetings for the whole team to build trust and to get to know each other better. Initiatives such as “Let’s have a cup of coffee together!” or “Choose some pictures to introduce your culture!” always provide great opportunities to open up a more private communication.

3 – Make sure employees feel heard and respected

Every team member should have a guaranteed space to share their thoughts and insights. Communication styles vary across cultures and online communication tools sometimes sharpen cross-cultural differences. Team members from direct cultures do not need a special invitation to deliver their opinions. However, those from indirect cultures often wait to be encouraged and invited to provide their comments.

Waiting for an employee to speak up may be too late. In fact, many of them will never decide to raise a problem themselves. 

4 – Match assignments with talents and strengths of your team members

If people feel trust and support from their leaders, they are more engaged and passionate to finish their assignments and go the extra mile. Leaders who know the talents and strengths of their team members contribute to their personal development and increase their team’s performance.

5 – Set clear and measurable goals for team members

When team members work from home and try to motivate themselves to achieve goals, having a clear idea of what to do and how, is the clue for their engagement and performance. Virtual leaders should be aware of their communication strategies and be crystal clear about responsibilities, assignments and deadlines.

6 – Be a leader who shows recognition and appreciation

In general, employees often miss being appreciated and recognized. Companies and leaders often take care of failures and hot issues. Once everything is going well, they neglect opportunities to show their recognition and appreciation. A simple and short “Thank you!” email works wonders and distributes a lot of positive energy to do our best.

Eva Gaborikova

Read also:

Part 2: 20 culturally correct questions for leaders and members of virtual teams

Part 3: How to gamify team-building in virtual teams

Eva Gaborikova

Eva Gaborikova

Eva has been a cross-cultural consultant and ICF certified coach for more than 15 years, supporting leaders, managers, multicultural teams and expat families. Working with international companies, teams and different cultures, she inspires her clients to look for practical strategies how to turn cross-cultural challenges and differences into their benefits. In 2016 and 2018 she was awarded “GREAT Award” in New York in competition with trainers, coaches and consultants from USA, Europe and Asia.

Countries: Austria, Germany, United States, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland

Languages: English, Slovak

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