Six Essential Steps to Building Trust in Remote Teams

Guest blog from Marie-Claire Ross, Trustologie

laptop-2562325_960_720

Transitioning to managing a remote team when your team is normally co-located requires a steep learning curve for both team leaders and team members.  Throw in the COVID-19 crisis and high levels of anxiety and trust levels in the team can come crashing down if not managed correctly.

Whenever there is change and uncertainty, employees will naturally withhold expending too much energy into a team, until it feels safe to do so.  The antidote is trust.

After all, when you don’t have trust, it’s like walking through sludge.  Everything takes a long time to get done. Miscommunication and misunderstandings become rife requiring multiple meetings to sort out differences – slowing down decision-making and action.  Blame increases and avoiding accountability resulting in more conflict.

Continuing to boost your teams trust levels is critical, while everyone is learning the ropes.  This is trickier to do remotely because repairing and maintaining trust is much easier face-to-face.  To ensure team performance doesn’t drop precipitously requires the team leader, and team members, to be willing to not only change how they interact, but also their underlying mindsets.

That’s because humans have this odd tendency to only believe something is true if they can see it.  In a work environment, leaders only think team members are working if they can seethem work.

Today, team leaders have to cast aside this limiting belief that has literally stopped remote working from really taking off in the past.  Now, we’re all in this interesting workplace experiment where leaders have no choice but to let go of the reins and trust that people are getting work done.  This requires leaders to stop basing people’s performance on whether they’re seated at their desk from 9-5.  The truly liberating and empowering benefit of working from home is that people can adjust their work schedule to fit in with their lives.  As long as they can attend important meetings and produce the work required, the set times people work are irrelevant.

Pivoting from measuring time at work to delivering outcomes takes time.  Particularly for more mature leaders, who have been conditioned since school to work during set times.  Usually the tendency is to micromanage when people aren’t visible – sending an unintentional message to employees that they’re not trusted.  The result is employees will overwork to demonstrate their contribution.  And during this anxious time, this only compounds stress levels.

The good news is that this can be avoided if leaders are self-aware and have the right tools.  Visibility can be improved through using project management software that makes progress highly visible to all.  While team members need to step up and modify how they work together.

Learning any new skill this takes time.  After all, it’s a bit like moving a team from playing netball to football.  All the behaviours, mindsets, interactions and communication styles all need to change.  And it’s common to make mistakes.

To keep trust levels optimised, there are two elements leaders to focus on in equal amounts.  Otherwise, you risk being strong in one area and not the other, creating minimal improvement.  These elements are:

  1. Building trust with each individual in the team and
  2. Fostering trust between team members.

Counter intuitively; leaders need to spend more time structuring communication and relationship building between team members than when working separately.

Let’s go through the steps to do this using our SUCCEeD Together Trust Framework. This is based on six trust drivers that make it easier to leaders to identify and understand trust issues.

Support – Leaders who care, get the most out of their people.  Support underpins all of the other trust drivers and is more critical to remote teams than co-located ones.  Essentially, humans don’t trust people who don’t care about them.  So leaders need to do more work to ensure that team members feel supported by everyone in the team.

This is so critical because distributed teams have limited opportunities to spontaneously interact in hallways and food areas, which naturally bonds people together.

According to the Building Workplace Trust Study by Interaction Associates, the main way virtual workers wanted their leaders to build trust was to convene periodic face-face meetings (40%).  Of course, during the pandemic this is impossible.  But for teams that have each previously met in person, building trust remotely is easier.  But you can’t take it for granted.

If you’re a team leader, there are two areas that you need to focus on to improve support:

  1. Foster Visibility – This is on three levels. The first one is ensuring that you share as much information as possible.  It can be easy to forget to share making people feel left out.  Make it a general rule to be as transparent as possible, in order to provide the right context for people.  Share meeting notes, send regular updates and ensure all tasks and expectations are clearly documented.  The second level is making sure you’re accessible.  In a workplace, it’s important for leaders to walk the floor and speak to people daily.  Of course, it’s impossible to do this virtually.  To get around it, schedule the same time everyday when people can call you and get an immediate response.  Another example is to let employees know that if they mark their email as a high priority you will respond to it that day.  Finally, make sure everyone has their webcam on in meetings.  Video meetings encourage stronger connection between team members than phone calls.
  2. Help Team Members Understand each Other– Remote teams are less likely to recover from team members who are not trusting or trustworthy. Creating opportunities for people to learn about each other outside of work is important. Make sure that you schedule social time before or after a meeting to allow people to talk about their personal lives.  You can even have virtual coffee or lunches, where people chat over meals.  If your organisation is big enough, consider have a Slack channel where people can find others in the organisation that share the same interests such as knitting or photography.

United to Solve Customer Problems – We trust people who are similar to us.  In a team, you have lots of different people thrown together.  Unite everyone by regularly aligning people to how the work solves customer problems.  On an individual level, connect how each person’s contribution brings value to the team and organisation.  In team meeting, regularly share customer success stories, customer feedback and challenges.

Clarity of Thinking and CommunicationHumans need certainty and communication is all about reducing ambiguity.  Without it, we tend to not trust a situation.  This trust driver requires leaders to spend time clearly thinking and planning how they are going to provide employees with the right information to do their job.

According to the Building Workplace Trust Study by Interaction Associates, there were three things that virtual workers required from their team leaders:

  1. Reveal their thinking about important issues
  2. Remind team members of their common purpose
  3. Create clear working agreements.

To do this requires spending time one on one with people and convening together as a team.

With each individual, make sure you:

  • Discuss what success (including quality) looks like for the team and how their tasks connect to that.
  • Work with them to create their own goals that are tied to the team’s overarching goal (and encourage each team member to share their goals at team meetings).
  • Clearly articulate how they need to communicate progress with you. For example, do they need to send you a summary email of work done at the end of the week or would you prefer a daily phone call?
  • Explain their role, responsibilities, and your expectations. Encourage them to repeat back to you what they believe them to be, so you can check for accuracy and understanding.

For the team, you’ll want to ensure you have regular meetings, in order to co-ordinate team schedules and progress updates.

  • Ensure each team member talks about their progress to help everyone understand each person’s contribution. Make each individual responsible for gathering this information and presenting it.  This is important because we only trust people who are competent at their job. Encouraging each member to prove their competency will help others trust them.
  • Weekly check-ins to discuss what people are working on, what’s keeping them stuck and what is or isn’tworking. If you’re team is new to remote work, implement daily check-ins

Candour – You can’t fix problems, if people aren’t willing to talk about them. Ensuring team members feel safe to talk about issues is one of the defining factors of a high performance team. Unfortunately, conflict can go unresolved because it’s easy to agree in an online meeting.

Improving candour involves the team leader modeling the right behaviours that enable people to speak up.  Allow people to challenge you and respond by listening and asking curious questions. Give positive verbal feedback for those brave enough to express issues and concerns.  If your team does not naturally talk about issues, ask in meetings: Who has a different point of view on this issue?  Consider asking people by name to articulate their support or concerns.

Empowered to GrowYou can’t grow a company unless the people within it are growing.  You want to make sure that learning is safe and it’s a journey that you’re all on together.

Set aside time to learn jointly.  These can either be formal learning (eg: learning how to read a profit and loss statement) right through to ensuring that people are learning from each other.  Don’t forget to do training because you’re remote.

Encourage project wrap-ups to share lessons learned.  And also encourage team members to provide virtual presentations that you can record it, and tag, so that it is easily searchable.

DependabilityAt the heart of trusting others is being able to rely on people.  In a workplace team, we need to feel that others will make good on their promises and do the right thing.  This requires ensuring that each team member understands all of the interdependencies of the role.  The job of the leader is to provide a holistic understanding of the interactions between all the moving parts and ensure everyone is accountable.  Check in with team members regularly about any bottlenecks that are potentially stopping team members from delivering on goals.

Powering Great Remote Teams

Great remote teams thrive in a culture of trust.  And it requires team leaders that are conscious of building trust into their team interactions, actions and communication.

And it’s a skill that is going to more valued in the supply chain market once we are in the brand new world on the other side of this pandemic.  While we don’t know what the future will look like, it’s pretty clear that leaders who micromanage, resist change and find it difficult to rally their people won’t be tolerated.  Low trust leadership slow things down creating unnecessary problems that we can no longer endure in a fast paced world.

The payoff of high trust leaders is extensive.  According to Interaction Associates, virtual workers tend to report a significantly higher level of trust in their organisation than their non-virtual workers.  And the benefits can be quite staggering – the same research study found that organisations that have high trust have 2.5 times the revenue generation of low trust organisations.

Authentic leadership is built on trust.  The more people trust their leader, and each other, the more they will take risks and adapt keeping their organisation alive.  In these difficult times, organisations that can adapt quickly will be more likely to survive.

MarieClaire copy

Marie-Claire Ross is the chief corporate catalyst at Trustologie.  She is a speaker, author and consultant focused on helping CEOs and leadership teams put the right processes in place to empower employees to speak up about issues, challenge each other, and share information.

If you would like a complimentary Remote Team Trust Cheat Sheet, that can help you build trust both one on one and within your teams, go to https://trustologie.com.au/tips-for-managing-remote-teams/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seek Out These 10 Qualities for Ongoing Career Success

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

Do you know which skills are most vital to your professional future? More importantly, do you possess them?

According to the new World Economic Forum (WEF) report, “The Future of Jobs,” the top 10 proficiencies and workforce strategies for 2020 and beyond are

  1. complex problem-solving
  2. critical thinking
  3. creativity
  4. people management
  5. coordinating with others
  6. emotional intelligence
  7. judgement and decision-making
  8. service orientation
  9. negotiation
  10. cognitive flexibility.

These findings were derived from chief human resources and strategy officers at leading global employers. The executives were asked about current shifts in business and what they mean for employment, skills and recruitment across industries and geographies.

“By 2020, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology and genomics,” says WEF senior writer Alex Gray. “These developments will transform the way we live and the way we work. Some jobs will disappear, others will grow, and jobs that don’t even exist today will become commonplace.”

Although AI tackles many challenges that people cannot, machines are less likely to decipher complicated puzzles that are not clearly defined or span multiple industries. This is why complex problem-solving tops the WEF list. Likewise, critical thinking is a strictly human capability that enables us to process, visualize and make connections in a world of ambiguity and nuance.

With the constant influx of new technologies, it’s no wonder that creativity is among the top three skills. “Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans,” Gray explains, adding that negotiation and cognitive flexibility are at the bottom of the list because machines are increasingly making our decisions for us. In fact, 45% of WEF survey respondents believe AI will sit on company boards of directors by 2026.

“The future workforce will need to align its skillset to keep pace,” Gray writes. “Change won’t wait for us: Business leaders, educators and governments all need to be proactive in upskilling and retraining.”

The next five years

Something I found particularly interesting while reading the WEF report was the comparison between today’s top 10 and the list from just five years ago. While many skills were fairly comparable, others shifted dramatically (creativity). Some appeared for the first time (emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility), and some fell off the list altogether (quality control and active listening).

In ASCM’s 2019 Supply Chain Salary and Career Survey Report, 82% of respondents said they are likely to remain in the field for the next five years. As these people continue on their professional journeys, I can’t help but wonder what competences the supply chain careers of the future will demand of them. Indeed, our report revealed that job stability is strong — with about 75% of respondents either remaining in their current positions or being promoted last year — but what must supply chain professionals do to keep on this positive trajectory?

ASCM will explore these questions and many more with our 2020 Supply Chain Salary and Career Survey Report. Based on the findings, we will continue to revise and update our content to ensure you have all of the latest skills that employers are seeking. I invite you to add your perspectives as we collect this important data in order to better understand, inform and advance the global supply chain community. Take the survey here before January 31.

Abe Eshkenazi will give a keynote address at MEGATRANS, Melbourne on 1 April 2020 as a special host to ASCI. To register, visit: https://www.megatrans.com.au

ASCI2018 Advisory Panel

Our journey continues on the path to ASCI2018. Our main announcement has been made and the implementation is well under way. Our next step is to announce our advisory panel, and here it is.

·       Pieter Nagel, CEO, ASCI – Dr Nagel has spent his whole working career of more than 30-years, in the Supply Chain domain. He has achieved a dynamic balance between corporate, consulting and academic positions and has always endeavoured to advance the logistics profession. He developed an international reputation as a leader in Supply Chain Strategy.

·       Penny Bell, ASCI Director and Supply Chain Director, Medical Devices, ANZ, Johnson and Johnson – Penny Bell is a highly effective strategic supply chain executive, with well-developed general management competencies who focuses organisations on their strategic direction, challenges the status quo through continuous improvement initiatives, guides transformational change programs and identifies and develops high performing talent.

·       Henry Brunekreef, ASCI Director and Director Advisory Services, Supply Chain and Operations Management, KPMG – Henry Brunekreef is a Senior Manager with nearly 20 years of industry and consultancy expertise in leading organisations to operations excellence, with extensive domestic and international experience in all aspects of Supply Chain, Customer Service, Logistics and Project / Change Management. First-class strategic thinking, networking and interpersonal skills allow him to create high performing teams and drive necessary change. Henry is result driven whilst constantly focusing on customer requirements.

·      Laynie Kelly, ASCI Director and Marketing Manager ASIA Pacific, IPTOR – Laynie is an accomplished marketing and communications executive and advisor with more than 20 years corporate development experience in the technology, food & beverage, automotive and media sectors, managing sales and creative project teams. Laynie specialises in applying her expertise and market knowledge to consistently exceed the marketing performance of her clients.

Our advisory panel will be able to provide the strategic advice and relevant industry knowledge to take ASCI2018 to the next level. The panel includes an array of experienced professionals from across the supply chain, as you can see above.

With such a strong advisory panel, ASCI2018 is sure to be a unique opportunity. Each panellist comes from varying sectors within the industry, meaning your organisation will be able to engage everyone, from logistics to procurement and overall, your entire organisation can benefit from the latest industry advances.

You are also invited to take part in our survey and let us know what you want to see and hear at the conference – HERE

 

Regards,

Pieter Nagel
CEO
Australasian Supply Chain Institute

ASCI2018 Save the Date

Here at ASCI, it has been a pipeline dream of mine to run our own conference for the many members of ours in the community.  I am fortunate enough to announce, that this has become a reality and our very own conference ‘ASCI2018‘ is underway to be brought to you on 23 & 24 May 2018.

We have been working and will continue to be working hard in the lead up to ASCI2018. I am aware of the rapidly changing environment of the supply chain industry and the ASCI team have implemented this into the theme and program of the conference. ASCI2018, will allow for supply chain managers to receive some clarity around the latest industry developments admit a rapidly changing supply chain landscape due to e-Commerce disruptions.  This is why we have named the conference ASCI2018: e-Commerece: Driving Supply Chains into the Future.

Businessman Smiling During Meeting

The world is experiencing major disruptions. CEOs see more threats today versus three years ago, up 78% according to a recent study.* As e-Commerce turns the spotlight onto the supply chain, Operations, Logistics and Supply practitioners have a huge responsibility to offset these threats, leverage new technologies and build faster, better global supply chains. More than ever, these practitioners need to be at the top of their game, working together across functions within the organisation, and building the capability to respond to e-Commerce. Equally important is that this theme is addressed in relation to the technical best practice knowledge on which ASCI has laid its foundations.

Attending ASCI2018 will be a unique opportunity to engage your organisation’s entire supply chain, logistics and procurement teams in a professional learning experience. At ASCI, we’re passionate about helping members re-position themselves for sustainability in light of major disruptions. These major disruptions are coming thick and fast. We need to protect and educate our members so they can respond to such change.

Finally, I have to mention that we have selected our strategic endorsement partner, Akolade to help run our conference. We are very impressed with the quality and relevance of Akolade’s leading-edge, well researched events which we have been participating as the Endorsement Partner. Akolade has demonstrated the expertise and professional approach we require to run ASCI2018 and we look forward to collaborating yet again on our very own conference.

I am so proud of this achievement and milestone the ASCI team have accomplished. Looking back at all the hard work the team have done to make this conference happen shows how dedicated they are to bring the best of the best to our member base. I look forward to seeing you all at our conference.

pieter_fred_2

 

*PwC CEO Insights, 2017: http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-agenda/ceosurvey/2017/au/key-findings.html

 

Pieter Nagel
CEO
Australasian Supply Chain Institute (ASCI)