The key to leading remote teams
A foundation of trust is essential to managing remote employees
Veterinary practices have increasingly shifted to hybrid team structures thanks in large part to the demand for telehealth options. While this creates more service options for clients, and it may appeal to some employees who enjoy the flexibility to work from home, it has required managers to learn new skills.
Mia Cary, DVM, CEO and change agent at Cary Consulting, offered insights on how to better manage remote teams during a session at the dvm360® Fetch Conference in San Diego, California.
The foundation for managing any team, remote or in-person, is still trust—trust based on vulnerability, said Cary. That’s the kind of trust that enables people to admit their weaknesses and share they need help. The manager must be the person to lay the foundation for trust by showing he or she can be vulnerable, too.
According to Cary, there’s a reason that trust is the foundation of the pyramid in the popular management book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Cary extolled that book’s recommendations for building that trust through shared experiences and celebrations of success. One trust-fostering exercise could be taking brief time during a team meeting to allow people to quickly share something based on whatever prompt they are given that day. A prompt could be directly related toward the team, such as share one good thing someone on the team did recently. Or it could be lighter and not work related, such as asking each team member to share their preference: iPhone or Android, Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, etc. In addition to infusing the meeting with fun and lightness, it also creates opportunities for team members to reveal more of their personalities.
Cary also advises adopting a Radical Candor communications style, which means challenging colleagues directly but doing so in a way that shows you personally care for the colleague, as explained in a book, essays, and video by Kim Scott, a CEO coach. The approach is meant to foster a culture of collaboration by empowering communication that values specific feedback that is also kind.
Additionally, Cary espouses creating a purpose statement with the team to guide its work and keep everyone in tune with its mission. Other management tips include:
- Listen more/talk less: Engage individually with team members on a regular basis.
- Tackle the tough stuff: What’s the tough stuff you’re not talking about? Don’t let it fester, talk it out.
- Assume the best: Assume your staff has good intensions before acting too fast or irrationally. Understand their circumstances.
- Cameras on: During video conferences involving folks working remotely, as well as those in the office, ask everyone to turn on the camera on their individual laptops or phones to make everyone equally visible and accountable.
- Leverage technology: Determine what technology best helps the team with task management and communication.
- Discuss culture and climate: Culture is what we believe. Climate is what we perceive on any given day.
- Be intentional with equity: Equity recognizes that everyone has different circumstances and skills. Understand these and allocate resources equitably so team members have what they need to reach the desired outcome.
Cary M. Leading remote teams for success. Presented at the: dvm360® Fetch Conference; San Diego, California. December 2-4, 2022.