Managing remote teams is a persistent leadership challenge that has been intensified by the Covid pandemic.
Clearly, leaders and employees now have to get clear on how they define “success” for each role. Is it time on task? Or specific outcomes?
But focusing exclusively on productivity outputs comes at the expense of being human. Of that team feel you get when you’re working together in the same space.
What is a leader to do?
Teams of human beings, not human doings
To be clear, a focus on outputs completely makes sense. We get teams together to get stuff done.
But even in the best of times, focusing only on outputs can create an environment where people feel used. Where they stop caring about quality. And where they have less trust in their team and leaders.
Add to that the stress of this Covid pandemic: alternating regulation changes, people getting sick, working from homes that were never intended to be worked from. Even normally pleasant colleagues are getting unexpectedly grumpy and short-tempered.
For years, studies have shown that happy teams are more productive. So how do you build that human connection again? And do it without piling on yet another task to the teams already full task list?
I share a deceptively simple tool with my coaching clients. A spreadsheet.
A Dashboard for Managing Teams
I’ve been using spreadsheets to track relationships for years. I definitely have databases and CRM tools. But the simplicity of a spreadsheet brings clarity. And doesn’t require learning a new software tool.
The team management dashboard was, in part, inspired from a similar dashboard by the Veritus Group. In my version, the first 4 columns are:
- Team Member
- Goal for the Year (yours or theirs)
- Due Date
The next twelve columns are the months of the year.
The process for filling out the dashboard is:
- You write the name of a team member.
- Then you think about what you want for the team member. What do you want them to be saying? Or to have accomplished? Or even what do they want to have accomplished? This needn’t be work related. Some firms have had tremendous success experimenting with helping team members do non-work related goals.
- Give that time frame a date. Or at least a month for that goal to be true.
- Go ahead and put that end goal in the column with that month.
- Then write any notes that might be helpful as you look at this goal over the coming year. Shorter is likely better here.
- Now ask yourself, “In order to accomplish this, what has to happen between now and then?” Put one prompt or task in each month. These don’t need to be complex. It can be as simple as “Write a note” or “Find a helpful article.”
- Then live out the plan!
You now know what to do each month for each of your team members. At the start of each month, you can refer to this dashboard and schedule your tasks for each person.
This simple tool helps you “begin with the end in mind.” And helps you rebuild a level of humanness and trust in the members of your team. Whether they’re working from home or at the desk beside you.
You don’t even have to let your team know your doing this. In fact, it can be fun to start this and see how they respond.
Works for employees too
Leadership isn’t just about a title. Leadership is about influence. You can definitely use this process even if you’re not the “manager” or “leader.”
For example, you can ask yourself “What do I want my boss to say at my next performance review?” Then figure out what you need to do each month to make it easy for her to say that.
To get a free sample of this template of this Management Dashboard, put your name and email here: