Key skills for success in the digital work-space
The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.—George Bernard Shaw
This quote has never been truer than in today’s digital work-space. Today, teammates often collaborate across different geographical locations. They don’t necessarily share the same office space.
The benefits of distributed teams are essential for increasing innovation and creativity. However, they are also characterized by misunderstandings, and lack of trust among teammates.
Challenges in the digital work-space
The challenges mentioned above, are not from a technological nature. In practice, the core of the problem is the team’s mindset’ for building relationships and bonds.
Distributed teams must work on their communication skills. Moreover, the way they express their ideas, concerns, and disagreements.
Below, I tackle the three crucial skills for achieving success in distributed teams.
IM and emails enable information to travel fast, but they often fail to deliver the message. People tend to skim through emails. We use abbreviations one too many times resulting in ambiguous directions and explanations. The situation worsens when the “the other side” makes an assumption that he or she understood the request.
Tip 1: Give precise directions
Use formulated words, avoid using jargon or acronyms especially with new teammates. Paraphrase and summarize. Especially, when introducing complicated or new concepts. Visuals are useful in this case.
Tip 2: Communicate regularly and frequently
Have Monday morning meeting to plan and clarify short-term tasks and goals. Ensure that entire team is on the same page. You can also have Friday wrap up meeting for resolving issues that may have risen during the week. Reduce the chances of making assumptions and avoid misunderstandings.
Tip 3: Ask the right questions
There are three question your teammates must always be able to answer.
What are your standards of quality?
How do you define outstanding work?
What do you expect from your teammates?
The different cultural backgrounds are often the source of disputes and misunderstandings. Depending on teammates origin, some may need more or less control. Moreover, have different work practices, perception of authority and power.
Tip 1: Increase your self-awareness
Don’t make assumptions. Don’t ever think people behave or react in the same way as you. Avoid jumping to conclusions or making judgmental comments like “you don’t understand”. Most importantly, be aware of your personal biases that come with your culture.
Tip 2: Use descriptive and non-evaluative language
You have to take away any judgment, disapproval and blame from your communication. Critical feedback initiates defensive behavior and non-cooperative attitude. To avoid such results, be very specific and descriptive. Focus on the problem at hand, and the actions taken not the emotions you felt. For example, the statement: “it doesn’t make any sense to….” will have a lot more constructive effect when formulated: “you will have more success when/if…”. This approach inspires growth and learning. Moreover, enhances trust among teammates, especially in distributed teams.
Tip 3: Strong company culture
Teammates who share common values, communicate in a way that is respected company-wide. The set of common values, goals, and aspirations decreases the chances for misunderstandings.
Working in a distributed team means it’s up to you how much work you get done during the day. You need to be a self-starter. You have to keep the momentum going. Moreover, you must motivate yourself to keep productivity levels high.
Tip 1: Create to-do list and build reports
To-do lists keep you focused and give you clarity about the amount of work. Moreover, to-do lists are one way to keep people accountable for their work. It is very important to share your to-do list with members on your team. This creates natural competition among teammates.
Tip 2: Focus on results
Always have the end goal in the back of your mind, but also enjoy the process. Break down the big projects into smaller tasks and label each task with a specific result and time frame. Measure your result, build reports, use visuals, share your progress with your team. This will help you better understand your own working style. Analyse your productivity levels, learn your weakness and improve your efficiency.
Tip 3: Think positive
Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking for self-motivation. When working in a distributed team, it is easy to fall into the vicious circle of self-doubt. You can even feel relentlessness to act on your ideas. But, you have to accept failures as a normal part of the learning process. Perceive them as opportunities for growth. Company’s culture has plays a crucial role in imprinting this mindset. Most important, strong company culture contributes towards higher productivity levels in the end.
Are you also working in a distributed team? Share your insight in the comment section below. Don’t forget to subscribe to get more success tips for working in the digital realm.