Part 1 – Building a remote high-performing Team
In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, remote work has become more common for many organizations. While the debate is heating up between remote work detractors and remote work advocates, I’d like to offer my version of what it takes to start building remote high-performing teams.
Remote work offers numerous benefits such as flexibility and access to a global talent pool, it also poses unique challenges, particularly when it comes to building high-performing teams. In this four-part blog series, I will explore 4 key aspects of creating and nurturing successful remote teams around Purpose, Process, People, and Outcome. I like to call this the 3PsO model.
In this first article, I will delve into the importance of establishing a compelling purpose that resonates with and is shaped by the team members themselves.
The Power of Purpose
A team without a clear purpose is like a ship without a destination. It drifts aimlessly, lacking the motivation and drive necessary to achieve extraordinary results. Purpose serves as a guiding light, providing direction, focus, and a sense of belonging in the team (we are in this together), it appeals to our social side. When it comes to remote teams, clarifying and building a compelling purpose becomes even more critical.
Alignment and Focus
Remote team members often work independently, dispersed across different time zones and cultural backgrounds. Individuals may struggle to align their efforts toward a common goal without a shared purpose. A compelling purpose unifies the team, ensuring that everyone is pulling in the same direction. It establishes a collective sense of meaning and empowers individuals to understand how their contributions contribute to the bigger team picture. With a clear purpose, remote teams can focus their energy on high-value activities, driving productivity and efficiency.
The team’s purpose should be aligned and in focus with the overall strategic goals of the organization so the team in its entirety does not drift away from the organizational goals.
Motivation and Engagement
In a remote setting, team members may experience feelings of isolation or disconnection. A compelling purpose serves as a rallying point, fostering a sense of belonging and motivation. When team members genuinely believe in and identify with the purpose, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. Purpose-driven teams exhibit higher levels of satisfaction and are more resilient, overcoming obstacles with determination and a shared sense of purpose.
Autonomy and Empowerment
Remote work is characterized by a higher degree of autonomy, with team members often having more control over their work schedules and methods. By involving team members in shaping the purpose, you create an environment of empowerment. When individuals have a voice in defining the team’s purpose, they feel a greater sense of ownership and responsibility. This autonomy leads to increased creativity, innovation, and a higher level of accountability within the team.
Attracting and Retaining Top Talent
In the highly competitive landscape of remote work, attracting and retaining top talent is crucial for building a high-performing team. Talented individuals seek purposeful work that aligns with their values and aspirations. It is especially true for Gen Zers and Millennials according to the Deloitte Global survey, nearly two in five (37% of Gen Zs and 36% of millennials) say they have rejected a job and/or assignment based on their personal ethics. Nearly half (46%) of Gen Zs and millennials in senior positions have rejected a job and/or assignment based on their personal ethics.
By cultivating a compelling purpose, you create an environment that appeals to ambitious professionals who want to make a meaningful impact. Remote teams with a well-defined purpose become magnets for top talent, enhancing their ability to assemble diverse and exceptional teams.
Facilitating a purpose design exercise for your remote team
I facilitate this exercise in a face-to-face activity using an interactive board such as Miro.
Time estimated – 45 min
- Introduce the purpose of the exercise, and make sure everyone is on board. It should be an inclusive event for the team so double-check the presence and cognitive availability.
You can let everyone “checking-in” e.g. “expectations of the session” or “thoughts/feelings right now”.
Have your company’s vision, mission, or strategic goals displayed so it serves as a reference for the team.
Time estimated – 5 min
- Move on to the warm-up exercise.
Ask everyone to individually complete the following sentences. One sticky note per sentence.
Time estimated (depending on time size) – 10 min
- The legacy we would like to leave is…
- The difference we make is…
- The most inspiring thing this team could produce for the company is…
- When everyone is done, ask the team members to share. Let the discussion flows in case of potential discrepancies.
Time estimated – 15 min
- Moving on, bring the team to the following question “Given our company vision, mission, and strategic goals the unique purpose of this team is…?”
Introduce this part as a “mob” exercise.
Ask each team member to take turns to write the team purpose.
I generally give 1 minute per team member before the next one.
It does not have to be a full sentence straight from the beginning.
Only one person can write at a time, but they can add, or remove anything they want from the original sentence.
Everybody must edit the same sentence.
It is a collective activity so make sure each team member has a go at the sentence even if it is just to format it.
The sentence does not have to be perfect!
Good enough for now, safe enough to try is a great start.
Congratulations! Your team has a purpose!
Review your team’s purpose as often as the team feels the need.
Establishing a compelling purpose is the cornerstone of building high-performing remote teams. It aligns and focuses the efforts of team members, fosters motivation and engagement, promotes autonomy and empowerment, and attracts top talent. As an Agile coach or a team leader, it is your role to facilitate a collaborative process that allows team members to co-create and shape the purpose, ensuring that it resonates with their values and aspirations. In the next article of this series, we will explore effective strategies for building the structure of remote teams. Stay tuned!
If you are a Leader, a Change Agent, a Scrum Master, or a fellow Agile Coach and you’d like to know more, feel free to book a conversation with me.