The Connector Blog

Managing Remote Teams for Engagement

“I am seeking advice on how to best keep a virtual team engaged, motivated, but also how to make sure that everyone is ok when social distance can easily lead to loneliness.”

The trend to remote working is unlikely to disappear. In the end, learning how to work more collaboratively and effectively online is likely to open up a world of new possibilities for the future.

Make these Overarching Management Strategies Explicit

  • Clarify roles, set explicit goals and processes
  • Foster a good team culture for communication and engagement
  • Designate which tools will be used for what operational purposes

With these main goals in mind, here are some of my top shared resources. I’m recommending these as a jumping off point as I have found them to ring true from my own virtual event facilitation and community of practice moderation experiences.

  1. This USAID Learning Lab resource is sectioned into three types of engagement tips (with columns for user personas) – one for Day to Day Tips for Building Strong Remote Teams and Engagement, one for During Team Meetings on Tips for Building Strong Remote Teams and Engagement and lastly Using Technology for Better Meetings. https://usaidlearninglab.org/sites/default/files/resource/files/remote_working_tipsheet_final.pdf
  2. As Julie Wilson points out in 2020 Harvard blog in “Managing a virtual team requires managers to double down on the fundamentals of good management, including establishing clear goals, running great meetings, communicating clearly, and leveraging team members’ individual and collective strengths.”
  3. Head on over to the Learning for Sustainability curated list of resources on Managing Virtual Teams. This outstanding compilation by Will Allen and Margaret Kilvington covers management and operations advice along with resources to help you improve communication cultures for better remote team engagement. https://learningforsustainability.net/managing-virtual-teams/
  4. Here’s a brief NPR listen on the essentials of staying connected – ways to be more social to combat the isolation of remote teams. This could spark ideas for ways to offer remote teams and members engagement in more social ways to beat remote working isolation. https://www.npr.org/2020/03/15/815973389/virtual-happy-hour-anyone-working-from-home-but-keeping-connected

This is a great time to pause and reflect to reorient everyone to bigger picture mission strategies and how their greater engagement improves impact and outcomes.

If you find a strategy that works for your remote team, share it here!

Performing Arts Digital Artifacts Work Featured

My recent digital compilation that tells the story of a benefit concert here in Annapolis, Maryland was just featured in the Maryland Theatre for the Performing Arts October Newsletter.

I compiled these disparate and ephemeral pieces of the story to capture elements of a very special evening featuring a piano concert given by Peter Kater as a fundraiser for the MTPA.

Current cultural archives work with a world renown performing arts organization and its digitized press clippings scrapbooks from the 1920’s through the 1980’s has opened my eyes to the power of tracing and relating causes and events in the life and culture of a major performing arts organization. This inspires me to find a way to work with print and digital content compilations, though the nature of these artifacts is that they often exist apart in diverse native resource locations.

This digital scrapbook shares the evening as it stood out at that moment for the cause, but also will hold an important role as the story of MTPA’s development unfolds over time.

See this digital storytelling compilation here:

Here is the shout out included in MTPA’s October Newsletter:This kind of compilation is ideal for annual reporting, engaging donors and stakeholders and, of course, bringing disparate elements of a cultural or other project together in a visually compelling collection.

Because Most Can’t Do That Vulcan Mind Meld

Expert Mr. Spock and the Young Spock

Well heck yes! I’m aware that the mind meld thing is not actually occurring in this photo.  But the wise one is entrusting to the young one his deep smarts and legacy.

Wrapping up my Major Projects Knowledge Hub guest book choices for the month. Today I offer Critical Knowledge Transfer: Tools for Managing Your Company’s Deep Smarts.  

Ha!  See what I did there?  This week’s title builds directly from last week’s Deep Smarts, was also written by Leonard and Swap.  Keep that thread going.

The super sped-up scenes from the last episodes flash by now:  business mandates to explicitly transfer and retain deep expertise; newer thinking about best approaches in fostering a knowledge exchange and continuity culture; what are those deep smarts? Caught up?  Now back to today…

Dorothy Leonard, Walter Swap and Gavin Barton wrote THE book on knowledge transfer and – get excited – this is it!  How could I not bring it to you?

Leonard, et al. set out the basic challenge with these questions –“Why would you spend resources on the transfer? What exactly do you need to transfer? And who must be involved?  Why transfer knowledge? These questions can seem deceptively simple to managers. But these issues must be addressed with care before you will know which tools and techniques fit your particular situation.”

We’re not talking about building another knowledge base.  We’re not talking about another intranet.  We’re talking about soft-skill approaches to bring together  experts, nextperts and aspirationals in conversational, organic exchanges where know-how and why is surfaced and applied to solve complex challenges.

Critical Knowledge Transfer includes brief case overviews, papers and stories of approaches in diverse sectors and organizations. “ConocoPhillips 2012 MAKE Finalist”, Baker Hughes Integrated Operations, Monsanto, US Military to name a few.  Check out the “notes” section starting on page 201 for some clear and compelling references and examples of approaches.

Here’s a super visual that tells you more. Leonard, Dorothy. Critical Knowledge Transfer (p. 8). Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.

Liz McLean on Twitter @knowsaic  on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/efmclean/