Trust is not enough. The importance of empowering your remote team for more productivity

03 Feb 2019

Hiring remote developers are becoming more common in the tech industry not just because collaborating has become easier, but also because the need for specialized talents is increasing. Many experts and remote team leaders have discussed the importance of trust in virtual teams. Because nothing is more frustrating than working with people you don’t have faith in.

In fact, as much as trust is important, empowerment has great consequences when it comes to the success of your business as well as the success of every individual in your team. This is for the simple reason that in a traditional office environment trust and empowerment are unlikely to be an issue as they’re not often sought. In a remote team, empowerment should be a core principle that is practiced and implemented by employers and managers on a daily basis.

Why are they important?

Gallup’s study on 10,000 individuals revealed that the four characteristics employees appreciate in leaders are; trust, compassion, stability, and hope. According to Gallup’s study, “when employees don't trust organizational leadership, their chances of being engaged are one in 12”. So, if you want to increase efficiency and engagement, don’t just trust your team. Take a further step and empower them.

So, how can you empower and lead a powerful remote team of developers?

1- Get to know the person, not the employee

Working remotely means you’re missing an important part of physical interaction. Unlike traditional jobs, you won’t get the chance to stop by your developer’s desk and have a quick chat about work. As a remote leader, take time to know your new team members personally. What are their hobbies? And what are their preferred working hours and styles? When you stumble upon a great CV, get to know the person behind it. What are their attitudes? Are their goals aligned with those of the company?

Ask authentic questions and listen carefully to their answers. Once they’re hired, it’s important to implement interactions and interpersonal communication between your remote and on-site developers through transparent communication. Keep in mind that you’ll encounter different personality types in which different communication styles are preferred. Your role as a remote manager is to understand the personality type of your remote employees and communicate accordingly.

2- Work towards a shared goal

What are your goals/destinations? What do you hope to achieve with your business? Remote teams who share the same mission and goals tend to be more collaborative and energetic. Have a clear image of your company’s long term and short term goals and invite everyone to start discussing possible ways to achieve them. Once you set the higher-level goals of your company, focus on the small goals of each team/department. This will help you:

  • Determine when someone is off track.

  • Measure the progress of every remote developer.

  • Boost team spirits and encourage productivity.

Let your people share the same goals and notice the results.

3. Transparency = Empowerment

Empowering your team means trusting their intention to build great things and giving them the opportunity to take actions. The most obvious way to do that is by giving them access to all the information and resources they might need. Doing so enables them to collaborate more efficiently to reach the goals of your organization. At Internsvalley, since we are a remote team, we make sure everyone is using the same tools so we can see each other’s work. Using project management tools will help you enforce a completely transparent culture without worrying about each individual’s productivity.

Another way to foster transparency is by providing your team with frequent feedback and progress reports. Having frequent conversations with them about their progress and how it contributes to the future development of the company is crucial. When remote developers know what they should improve, and why, they will automatically have a clear direction of their work.  

4- Foster Asynchronous Communication  

Transparent communication is the main factor affecting the level of trust in remote work. Nevertheless, many employers neglect the importance of synchronous and asynchronous communication in a remote workplace. Synchronous communication simply refers to the kind of communication that happens between two participants (employees) when they exchange information at the same time. For example, face to face conversation, phone calls (when both participants are present and responses occur instantly).  

On the other hand, asynchronous communication, which tends to be very common in remote teams, happens through emails, Slack messages, or through any communication tool that doesn't require the receiver to respond instantly. In other words, asynchronous communication takes place when there’s a delay between the inquiry and the response.

Working with a remote team makes synchronous communication a bit difficult to maintain. Hence asynchronous communication should be enforced as a tool to enhance trust between remote developers. One of the perks of working remotely is the long intervals of focused time we could have without being interrupted. Therefore, asynchronous communication allows for more flexibility and helps us maintain those intervals of focused time.

Enforcing this type of communication starts with first and foremost; understanding that the difference in time zones may prevent your colleague from responding to your inquiry instantly. Therefore, make it a habit to specify a deadline in your request/inquiry. In that way, your colleague will be informed about how urgent is the matter.

Trust that your colleagues will respond to your inquiry once they have time to do so.

Tools to help you further improve the quality of your asynchronous communication:

When working with a remote team, it’s essential to facilitate your daily communication in the sense that it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or cause frequent interruptions. Especially if your team is dispersed around different time zones. Technology is playing a significant role in making the communication of remote teams a lot easier and effortless. There are several communication and project management tools that make asynchronous communication more efficient. For example, Trello is a great tool to bring your team to discuss a certain topic/project, share their inputs and ideas.  Slack is another communication tool that divides your chats into specific channels, so you can have a record of important chats concerning certain topics.

Trust starts with the right people:

As the famous Zig Ziglar once said, “You don’t build a business. You build people, and then people build the business.” Consequently choosing your team wisely is the first step toward enforcing trust in a remote environment. Because no matter the context or the environment, if you don’t trust your people are capable of driving the workflow, then you’re choosing the wrong people.

If you’re thinking about adding a remote developer to your team, check out the 5 questions you need to ask to pick the right candidate.

By: Menna Shalaby

Content Manager

Strategic Partners