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In organizations, we celebrate the sales team for bringing new business to the firm. After all, a company can’t survive for long without revenue. But, on the other side of many org charts sits the isolated, often forgotten, customer service team. This department is usually regarded as a cost center, rather than a company asset.

If you’re considering customer service as a money pit, think again. According to American Express, 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether to do business with a company. Quality customer support is imperative for sales

If your company sees service as a weight, you’re likely leaving revenue on the table and alienating customers. Invesp notes that investing in new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. In fact, in 2019 nine percent of American consumers switched companies due to poor customer service, says New Voice Media.

For best results, both sales and service need to work in tandem to provide the best-in-class experience your customers deserve. Let’s explore how to foster a winning dynamic between the two teams.

Also Popular: Managing the Dynamics Between Your Sales and Service Teams

The Significance of Customer Service

Before we dive into strategy, let’s examine the true significance of your company’s customer service department. Although the perception often is that this team exists solely to put out complaint fires and appease customers, the reality is that they do so much more. Did you know, 73% of customers fall in love with a brand and remain loyal because of friendly customer service reps, reports RightNow. 

Customer service is the front line for your business. They make or break the customer experience. Want more proof? New Voice Media also reports that the #1 reason customers switch to a new brand is that they feel unappreciated, while 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase due to poor customer experience. 

Starting to see how customer service impacts sales? If you need more convincing, consider that consumers are willing to spend 17% more on a company with outstanding customer service, reports American Express, and 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service, according to HubSpot Research. 

When the customer service team is operating at peak efficiency, they do much more than resolve issues. They foster relationships with customers. They put smiles on their faces. And they leave a favorable lasting impression of your brand in their minds. All of this equals a high customer retention rate, which means higher revenues. Bain & Company quantified this in a recent report stating that increasing customer retention rates (i.e. keeping customers happy) by just 5% can increase profits between 25% and 95%!

And, if they have the right skill set, personality, and training, your customer service team can actually bring in new business, too. They’ll nimbly move from problem solver to cross-seller or upseller, which increases customer satisfaction -- and your profits. Essentially, they’ll become an extension of your sales team.

In short, the department is absolutely vital to your company’s longevity and growth.

Why Sales and Customer Service Must Align

It’s tough for customer service to shine when they’re in conflict with the sales department. And you want them to shine, because as many as 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized experience, according to a Segment Survey. Often selling on commission, your sales team is typically concerned with one thing and one thing only: closing the deal. This revenue-oriented drive can lead them to over-promise things to your customers. And, when the company can’t deliver, customer service is left holding the bag.

Over promising and under delivering comes with a whole host of problems for your customer service department. Those issues include:

And -- the detrimental impact to your customers can’t be overstated. When your company fails to serve them as promised, they’ll rightfully become angry and distrustful. Even worse, you’re likely to lose repeat business and, according to American Express, angry American customers are likely to share their negative experiences with about 15 people. 

So, when sales and service are at odds, interdepartmental communication will be poor, job satisfaction will plummet, customer retention will worsen, and the company’s bottom line will suffer. If you can get them in sync, though, you’ll have a happy, tight-knit workforce that closes more deals and delights customers. So, how can you get the two departments on the same page?

How to Improve the Interdepartmental Dynamic

As a leader, there are four key things you need to do to improve the interdepartmental dynamic:

Let’s look at each in turn.

Align Indicators of Success

The first place to look is your scorecard and your company metrics for success. Do sales and service match up? Are they working towards the same established goals? And, more importantly, do employee behaviors align with those stated success indicators? 

For example, if customer service has a goal of responding to all inquiries within two business days, the sales team shouldn’t promise a same-day response. The two teams must act as one and present a clear and consistent message to customers. After all, they are both working towards the same ultimate goal of making the company successful.

Create a Culture of Collaboration

Your company needs to make collaboration a normal, celebrated part of doing business that gets prioritized. Ideas and data should flow freely between the two departments. And everyone in the firm, including the sales team, should adopt the mantra that customer service is a mindset, not just a department. Bottom line: the lines of communication must stay open, and the once near-adversarial relationship should become more team-oriented.

Offer Team Building Opportunities

To promote unity between the two groups, offer ample opportunities for team building. When sales and service get together in an informal but planned way, they’ll get to know each other as people and gain empathy for one another’s perspective. Sales may think twice about promising the moon to a customer just to make a sale when they know service could have to deal with customer disappointment down the line.

In addition, seeing each other perform their respective roles can be eye-opening. They’ll understand the other department’s challenges and gain respect for everything that goes into being successful in that position. Consider arranging cross-department job shadowing between sales and service at the time of hire - and on an ongoing basis to cement these new perspectives. 

And, if appropriate, consider job swapping. An extroverted customer service representative with a competitive streak might enjoy being in sales for a day or two. And a detail-oriented sales associate may benefit from taking on a temporary customer service role. Just be sure you’re not setting your employees up to fail. If their personality doesn’t lend itself to the opposite role, this strategy isn’t a good fit for them - or your unsuspecting customers.

Provide the Right Structure, Tools, and Resources

The best philosophies and attitudes don’t mean a thing if the actual company structure and business processes don’t support them. As a leader, you must provide the structure, tools, and resources your teams require to perform at their best. That could mean ensuring adequate communication systems exist (think interoffice messaging) or physically situating the departments closer together in the office to facilitate more face-to-face conversations. The key is to make collaboration as easy as possible.

How Omnia Can Help

If you want to better understand your team members and discover ways to help them function as a cohesive group, a Team Dynamic Report can help. Based on the results of our signature behavioral assessment, this report shows how likely each team member is to communicate with each other and reveals deeper insight into their individual strengths and weaknesses. The report will give you an action plan to facilitate collaboration, improve communication, and unify your team.

The report can be customized to fit your firm’s unique circumstances. Getting one is easy. Simply fill out a questionnaire and hop on a quick call with us, and we’ll do the rest!

Final Thoughts

Sales and service have long been at odds. But, the truth is -- they’re both playing for the same team! Sometimes, employees just need to be reminded of that. As a leader, you have the power and responsibility to foster a winning dynamic between the two groups. When you do, you’ll have an unstoppable, connected workforce that wows your customers and positions your company for long-term success.

I stole the following from a meme or maybe a T-shirt: Introverts. We’re here, we’re uncomfortable, and we want to go home.

That about sums it up. I’m often uncomfortable around people, and even when I’m enjoying myself, I’m looking forward to being home. I like socializing, but it’s also exhausting. That’s really the crux of being an introvert. I get tired just thinking about interacting with people.

It can be hard to be an introvert at work because communication is vital in business; heck, it’s vital in life. Our work and personal relationships depend upon it. And the fact is, introverts have a lot to say, but if you aren’t asking in the right ways, it could create unnecessary problems.

There’s a big difference between managing a team of hard-charging, fast-talking extroverts and cautious, patient, meticulous introverts. If you’re managing both groups the same way, half your people are miserable. And let’s face it, it’s probably your introverts. They aren’t telling you otherwise or fighting for what they need. You’ll know someone was unhappy when they send you a resignation email. By then, it’s too late, and you didn’t even know there was an issue.

So, I’m here to speak (or rather write) on their behalf. First, we’ve established that I’m an introvert. I also manage a team of introverts, and I’m in the personality assessment business. It’s up close and personal experience at your disposal. But just so you know you are getting your money’s worth out of this blog, I also polled some introverts and asked them what they need from their managers. And while nothing came as a complete surprise, it was helpful to get their point of view. They were also kind enough to share their rationale, which I didn’t even ask for. A bonus of working with detailed, introspective thinkers, you get a lot more than you pay for, like this blog. So here we go:

  1. After their initial training, build their confidence in their own abilities and knowledge. Rather than providing the answers when they come to you, encourage them to think through the matter and resolve it independently. This motivates with a sense of accomplishment and inspires self-sufficiency. Create an environment where reasonable mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities rather than disasters; a tall column 8 isn’t going to let themselves go overboard and misuse this leeway.
  2. Cautious introverts hate having to ask questions. They’ll do it because they want to do things right, but they’ll be worried about bothering someone or that they should already know the answer. They appreciate being independent in their fact-finding, so having places they can access answers (procedure manual, shared knowledge center) is really appealing. Still, always encourage questions and be a mentor.
  3. Check-in on them to see how things are going. Cautious introverts aren’t necessarily great at proactively bringing up problems. One-on-one conversations or private emails are where they may feel most comfortable discussing issues, but only if they feel you are genuinely interested, not just going through the managerial motions. Focus conversations on tangible ways they can resolve problems; don’t simply give platitudes. 
  4. Eliminate "brainstorming" from your vocabulary. It can feel more like blindsiding. Instead, ask them to think about a question or problem and get back to you with their thoughts at an agreed-upon time. They will have more and better ideas if they think it over. This turning it over in their mind might even happen outside of their normal work hours, for instance, when they are on their evening walk. Why? Because often they are too busy putting out fires at work to do deep thinking. Introverts do not do their best thinking in spontaneous groups or amid distractions. Plus, they won’t fight to be heard over the assertive extroverts. This is not to say that you shouldn’t invite introverts to brainstorming meetings. Send an email a few days before the meeting to allow those introverts to prepare. They’ll be more likely to speak up when they have had a chance to gather their thoughts.  
  5. Many introverts like to get and give difficult news via email first to promise a follow-up call or meeting. It gives them time to process and tame any emotions. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all situations, but when possible, it’s a great way to pave the way for a productive conversation.  On the flip side, when I ask an introvert to call me or have a meeting, I am sure to include something like: “It’s nothing bad!” Column 2 and 8 introverts go straight to catastrophic thinking.  How do I know? I have an employee, who is amazing, and she once told me that every time I ask her to give me a call, she thinks she is getting fired. 
  6. As a leader, proactively manage your own stress. Be careful not to transfer it to others. If you are on edge or feeling overwhelmed, your introverted employees will absorb that energy the most, and they already tend to take things seriously, so the tension can amplify painfully. Introverts internalize stress, even if it isn’t theirs. 
  7. Let them focus. You may want to do it all right now, but resist introducing more than one new challenge at a time. Introverts tend to prefer concentration and mastery over ASAP and "good enough." 
  8. Don’t assume cautious introverts do not want to grow or move up, or that they will be fulfilled working the same support job for the next 5 years. They often want to master their work first before they feel confident taking on more or something different. The key is to find professional development goals that stretch and challenge them without overwhelming them. Sometimes they need a little push to step outside of their comfort zone and risk making the mistakes that come from learning. 
  9. Cautious, detailed introverts want to feel that what they do makes a valuable contribution.  Get good at verbalizing to your team that what they do matters. Show them how it ties into a goal or project, talk about the outcome, give status updates, and be specific.
  10. Introverts like praise, especially if they have a tall column 8. But they don’t like to be put on the spot. If they’ve worked hard on something, acknowledge their work. A group email or an email where their manager is cc’d is cool. Just don’t make them get up and take a bow. 

So, there you have it, ten ways to lead a team of supportive introverts. Here’s to making them more comfortable!

You hire each employee to fulfill a specific role within your organization. And, with rare exceptions, most of your team members want to meet or exceed your expectations. But they also want more. Your employees yearn to feel a deep passion for their work and inspired by your company’s mission. They long to make a positive impact on the world around them. 

As their leader, you should desire these things for your team. By unleashing their passion, you’ll help your staff feel empowered, fulfilled, and happy. But that’s not all. 

New research shows, “71% of executives say that employee engagement is critical to their company’s success,” and, “63.3% of companies say retaining employees is harder than hiring them”. When your employees have this deep connection to their jobs, your company will reap numerous benefits. Engagement will go up. Turnover will go down. And your team will become an innovative, problem-solving force that fosters productive relationships and pursues continuous learning -- all in the name of moving your enterprise forward.

So how do you encourage, tap into, and nurture your employees’ passions? You:

Set the Culture

Your organization has to facilitate passion. And your company culture must embrace innovation, risk-taking, and rapid adaptability. Why is this important? A major long-term study shows companies with the best corporate cultures -- those that encouraged all-around leadership initiatives and highly appreciated their employees, customers, and owners -- grew 682 percent in revenue. If that’s not incentive enough, another U.S. study shows disengaged employees cost organizations around $450-$550 billion per year. 

That means that old-school, rigid micromanaging and narrow-focused supervision is out. Collaborative, flexible, trusting, and visionary leadership is in.

Your employees need to know that it’s okay to fail if a calculated risk doesn’t pay off. They also need to know that you’re not after perfection -- you’re after results. And, while today’s performance is important, tomorrow’s growth and evolution are more so.

This organizational stance has to be championed from the top down. As a leader, you need to model the behavior you want to see in your employees. Let your own passion show before you can expect your team to reveal theirs.

Show the Impact

To be genuinely invested in and truly passionate about their work, your employees need to see that what they do matters. To help them recognize this, show them how their effort impacts their department, organization, and community. When each employee can trace their output to a larger outcome, they’ll take ownership of it and strive to improve.

Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform the best work. - Forbes

Here are a few ways you can show your employees their real impact:

Provide the Opportunity

When you invest in an employee’s development, you tell them that you care about them and their career. With an enhanced skill set, they’ll feel more confident navigating uncertain times. They’ll also feel more loyal to your organization.

69% of employees say they’d work harder if they were better appreciated. - Hubspot

This development can also uncover and nurture your employees’ passion. As they learn by creating and doing, they’ll realize their potential and find new ways to help your organization achieve its goals. It’s a real win-win.

According to Gallup’s meta-analysis titled “How Employee Engagement Drives Growth,” the business or work units that scored the highest on employee engagement showed 21% higher profitability than units in the lowest quartile. 

For best results, provide each employee with various developmental experiences, tailored to their emerging skills and interests. Let them interact with other passionate team members across the organization to spread enthusiasm and innovation. And most importantly, give them ample space to experiment and implement what they learn.

How Omnia Can Help

It’s exciting to watch your team’s passion develop and deepen, benefiting each member and the firm. What if you could get a sneak peek into your employees’ strengths, tendencies, and work preferences? That insight would help you position them for success both now and in the future and determine optimal developmental opportunities.

Good news! You absolutely can get that insight anytime you want it. A behavioral assessment provides all of those details and more, helping you lead, motivate, and communicate effectively with your team. You can learn more about Omnia’s behavioral assessments here.

Remember, effective communication leads to more productive employees and a more profitable workplace. Behavioral insights can provide leadership with ideas on how to efficiently and thoughtfully communicate with each team member.

Omnia offers a variety of reports using behavioral assessment data. For example, the Team Dynamics Report provides an in-depth custom analysis of an existing or potential team. On the other hand, our Professional Development Report is an automated self-awareness report written directly to existing employees. 

Final Thoughts

Passionate employees can achieve great feats for your organization. But, they must be empowered to create, innovate, and take risks. When they are, you’ll retain valuable human capital, and your company will take giant leaps forward -- both necessities in today’s ever-competitive business world.

This week we're here to help you coach your team through conflict with a focus on cohesion.

It’s natural for humans to form teams, and it’s normal for those teams to develop specific dynamics. As a coach, a leader, it's important to influence those dynamics by setting clear goals, encouraging communication, and emphasizing ways to be productive and creative.  Without effective leadership, teams can become unproductive, apathetic, and even toxic.

While not every group will automatically become unified in their goals, these teams can be coached into cohesion with the right leadership. Cohesive teams are industrious and generally drama-free. Interactions among team members are respectful, disagreements are resolved peacefully, and agreement is a regularity.

How can you support your team to become more cohesive? We suggest the following:

Set High Expectations

The first step toward a top-performing, cohesive team is believing it exists. Set your expectations and your standards high. Offer support needed to meet these expectations and hold team members accountable to you and each other. Examples of ground rules include: Everybody shows up on time and ready to work, everyone participates, all ideas are respected, and commitments are kept.

Get to Know Who’s Who

We all learn differently, communicate differently, and handle conflict differently. These differences, combined with those based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, age, life experience, and so on, can be the driver for enhanced problem solving and innovation. Still, they also can be the source of stress and discord. Rather than assuming what people are likely to believe based on their outward characteristics and backgrounds, why not introduce some team-building exercises that reveal, more objectively, who’s who? Omnia’s professional development report helps employees understand their own personality traits and motivations. The report is ideal for reducing conflict and building collaboration.

Practice Real Inclusion

In every group, some members will be more vocal than others. These individuals might be the natural leaders worth following, or they might be those with the biggest egos who enjoy hearing themselves speak. In either case, don’t allow them to take over. The magic of diversity can’t work if true inclusion isn’t practiced. That means everyone gets a say, and each idea is given the consideration it deserves. This is not to say the team is obliged to spend hours hashing over every bad idea. However, dismissing an offering with a snort or off-handed comment is out of bounds and violates those ground rules mentioned earlier. Instead, anyone who cares to counter another’s idea should be required to defend her position with rational and clear principles. 

Get Out of the Way

As any sports fan knows, coaches encourage and enable others to do what they do. Coaches don’t do the work the players must do. So it is with good leadership. Getting out of the way is crucial. To bring your team to cohesion, be prepared to provide resources, inspiration, guidance, and wisdom, but don’t interfere where you’re neither needed nor wanted. At best, you’ll infantilize the team and teach dependence. At worst, you’ll create resentment and other ill feelings – all the while impeding work that would otherwise get done.

Praise Good Behavior

It’s common to complain that the same manager who is quick to criticize what employees do wrong is also slow to praise what employees do right. Don’t be that manager. Instead of catching your employees doing “bad,” catch them doing good – and let them know it.

Don’t Play Favorites

Nothing can tear a team apart faster than a leader who plays favorites. It’s okay to like some people more than you like others. It’s human nature and nothing to fret over. However, allowing your personal feelings to influence how you manage to the point of treating some employees unfairly is clearly to be avoided.

Highly functional teams are extremely valuable to the companies that support them. Coach your team into cohesion (or ensure it stays there) by following this article's advice.

As more and more organizations shift to using a remote workforce, the traditional in-person interview is also shifting into a virtual context. Remote interviews may not seem like they’re all that different from a physical interview. Still, they introduce many factors that can make them more difficult to manage if a company doesn’t put a lot of thought into implementing them. 

Fortunately, several strategies are easy to put in place and will make remote interviews more likely to select the ideal candidate.

5 Strategies for Conducting Successful Remote Interviews

1. Use Pre-Employment Assessments

One valuable step to include in any remote interview process is leveraging tools to narrow down the candidate pool to qualified and suitable applicants. Pre-employment assessments are incredibly useful in this regard because they can help organizations screen out candidates who lack the competencies necessary for the position. Cognitive testing measures a candidate’s ability to think abstractly, comprehend new ideas and solve problems, which is often critical to success in any new position. Behavioral assessments allow interviewers to determine which candidates are likely to be a good long-term fit for an organization. These assessments measure a candidate’s core traits and intrinsic motivators. Hiring managers gain valuable insight into fit for the job and how to effectively manage and motivate each employee once they are on board.

The results of these tests can be used together as part of the initial decision-making process. For example, if someone possesses all the hard skills necessary for success in the role, but exhibits behavior that suggests they will quickly be looking for another job, it might make sense to prioritize other candidates. These assessments are easy to implement remotely and can be used as a screening tool to determine who moves on to more time-intensive interviews.

2. Select the Right Communication Tools

When an organization commits to remote interviews, it needs to make sure it has the infrastructure to support that process. Many video conferencing platforms are available to choose from, but it’s a good idea for the company to choose one and stick with it. This helps to avoid any implementation problems and ensures that everyone involved in the interview process knows how to use the technology.

Some organizations may get by with a phone call or straightforward video conferencing software, but some positions may require additional features. For example, a candidate for a programming job may need access to developmental tools to complete a sample project as part of the interview process. It’s important to understand what tools will be needed ahead of time so that the interview process can be designed around the organization’s technology.

3. Communicate Details to the Candidate

Going through the interview process is stressful, but the stress can be even greater when the applicant must use unfamiliar or complicated technology. Organizations need to be clear when providing interview details. If the applicant has to download a special application to conduct the interview or be in a specific location (such as a quiet room rather than a bustling cafe), that information needs to be communicated early and clearly in the interview process.

If assessments need to be completed before a live remote interview, the interviewer must provide reasonable deadlines to ensure that testing is completed in time for them to evaluate the results. They should also provide a resource list if video conferencing software is unfamiliar or complicated to launch. For example, many companies are using Zoom, which is simple to set up and use, while Skype is robust but requires all users to have an account and software downloaded. This ensures that any potential problems are sorted out before the interview begins and avoids losing precious time to troubleshoot technical issues. 

4. Involve the Right People

Having more people involved in the hiring process generally leads to better outcomes. According to a UK-based Behavioural Insights Team study, having more than one person involved in evaluating a candidate is far more likely to result in a good hire. In cases where applicants are very similarly qualified and have few “easy” differentiators, just involving two people in the interview process increases the likelihood of making the best choice by almost ten percent. Having four people involved improves the odds by almost twenty percent. 

That’s because having different perspectives involved can reduce the chance of bias and raise concerns that a single person might overlook. However, the challenge when it comes to remote interviews is determining when having more people involved will make communication difficult. Hosting a video conferencing meeting with a large group increases the likelihood of interruptions and can make it difficult for the candidate to know who to focus on. When possible, the remote interview process should only involve the core team that will make the final decision. Having an agenda and communicating who speaks when is also helpful. 

5. Use a Structured Approach

The same soft skills required in in-person interviews are necessary for remote interviews. It’s important to have a system in place to give the interview structure. That could include assigning specific questions to different interviewers or implementing a system for recognizing people who want to speak (such as a raised hand icon). The person leading the interview needs to have a very organized approach to ensure the conversation runs smoothly.

As with a live interview, it’s imperative to plan. Rather than relying on off-the-cuff Q&A, a structured interview focuses on specific areas and ensures that the interviewer gets the information they need from the candidate. 90% of all questions asked during an interview should be related to the position or the company. Having behavioral assessment data can be especially helpful in pre-planning because the interviewer can ask questions better to evaluate the organization’s cultural fit.

Conduct Better Remote Interviews with Omnia Assessments

In addition to distilling the applicants' pool to the most qualified and best fit before the interview, assessment data is incredibly helpful for guiding the interview process. It saves time and resources but cutting out unnecessary questions and identifying the top candidates. Whether it’s measuring an applicant’s overall mental aptitude with cognitive testing or getting a better picture of their personality with behavioral testing, Omnia assessments can help organizations improve their interview techniques and make better overall hiring decisions.

To learn more about incorporating our scientifically validated assessments into your remote interviews, contact our team today.

Working in remote teams has become the “new normal” of business life today. Some companies were already transitioning to work from home or partial remote roles; however, many have been forced to embrace remote work recently. Remotely distributed teams require organizations to leverage their workforce effectively and bring the most talented and knowledgeable people together in new ways to address their most pressing problems. With more companies transitioning to remote working in the coming years, managers must understand how to use collaborative tools to promote strong company culture and boost employee engagement.

Why Effective Collaboration is Essential for Remote Teams

At first glance, managing a remote team may not seem very different from leading one in person, but there are some significant distinctions. The most obvious is the fact that team members don’t occupy the same physical space. Since they don’t generally see one another when communicating, they lack some of the visual cues people take for granted when meeting face-to-face. It can also be more difficult for managers to promote collaboration, especially for team members who feel disconnected and disengaged from the rest of the team. 

Maintaining a positive company culture that promotes collaboration can be a challenge for first-time remote managers. It makes sense that team members would interact differently from remote offices than they would in a company conference room, but managers have been working with remote teams for decades. It’s not impossible. It’s just different. Finding effective tools, maintaining consistent communication, and setting clear expectations help remote teams just as they do for those in-office. 

Why Your Company Culture Matters (Even for Remote Teams)

Organizations that make concerted efforts to cultivate and manage their workplace culture tend to be more innovative and do a better job of retaining their top talent. Much of that is due to the strong correlation between company culture and employee engagement. When people feel like the company they work for is committed to goals and values they believe in, they’re more likely to be engaged and proactive in their work. Recognizing your employees' work, supporting their careers, and creating a culture of communication improves performance and productivity.  Employees in these environments are more likely to hold themselves accountable while upholding the company’s core values.

Maintaining a high engagement level is important for all successful teams, though remote teams may feel more pressure to be self-motivated and proactive when they’re working from home. Some employees will thrive in this environment, while others will need more guidance. Trusting your teams to manage their own schedules and communicate information effectively is important, and setting clear guidelines upfront will help. Remote teams with a healthy and collaborative culture are more likely to be highly engaged and productive than teams managed through unclear methods, lack consistent goals, or are strictly based on how long the person sits at their desk.

Using Assessments to Improve Remote Team Engagement

Managing remote employees may be different from managing people in an office, but it still comes down to the same principles: managing personalities. As in every workplace, people have their routines, capabilities, and preferred management types.

Understanding an individual’s differences is critical when managing a workforce. Employees who thrived in an office setting might find themselves adrift when they cannot get face-to-face interaction with coworkers. Conversely, quieter employees who dreaded small talk at office parties might suddenly become high performers in a remote context.

Predicting how an employee will respond to new work challenges doesn’t involve guesswork or gut instinct. Behavioral and personality assessment data can create a detailed profile of how employees will likely react when placed in specific situations. Employees who tend to be more extroverted and social may need more focused interaction than those who like to keep to themselves. Understanding behavioral tendencies is also important for promoting productivity and cultivating company culture. 

Cognitive assessments measure more than natural aptitude; they also showcase how well an employee learns and adapts to new information. This is critical for shifting to a remote workplace, especially when people are forced to transition quickly. There is often less information and direct guidance in an unplanned change, so people need to be comfortable functioning independently and ask for help. Cognitive assessment data can help identify which employees will need more direct guidance after the initial shift and are more likely to adapt to remote working quickly. 

5 Collaborative Tools to Boost Productivity When Working Remotely

With the right technology, remote leaders can easily stay connected with their team and ensure everyone is doing their part to fulfill the team’s objectives. In addition to a good webcam and a quality headset, every remote team should consider some essential collaboration tools for business.

Video Conferencing Software

Traditional conference lines make it difficult to manage a meeting because visual queues are out. Without these cues, people tend to talk over each other, which can lead to frustration.

Video conferencing programs like WebEx, GoToMeeting, Zoom, or Adobe Connect make it possible for remote team members to see and interact with the rest of their team. These programs also allow participants to use features like hand icons and other tools to help manage the conversation.

Telepresence technology takes this a step further, with more sophisticated programs to make participants feel like they’re meeting in person. These programs include Cisco’s TelePresence series and Polycom high-definition conferencing.

Instant Messaging Tools

Sometimes team members want to discuss without setting up a meeting, or they need to get someone’s attention right away. Instant messaging tools and social software like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Jabber allow them to check in with team members in a less formal way, like tapping a coworker on the shoulder.

These programs aren’t just good for project planning and brainstorming. They’re also a great way to build relationships. Team members can use them for casual conversations, questions, team-building activities, and even parties.

Project Management Software

When team members don’t see each other every day, it’s easier to lose sight of what they’re each doing and how much time they’re spending on a particular project. That’s why it’s essential to use a project management system or software everyone is familiar with. These programs make each project visible and trackable. They also allow team members to easily communicate the next step, whether providing data or passing along a document for review. They can share files, assign tasks, identify dependencies, and check deadlines.

A few popular project management software programs include Basecamp, Teamwork, and Jira. They are particularly useful for teams implementing agile scrum methodology as a way of managing their workloads.

Time Tracking Software

When team members are scattered across several projects or time zones, it can be difficult to determine when key tasks need to be finished to keep deliverables on track. Or to track billable hours. Time programming tools like TimeFox, Clockify, and Kronos allow teams to keep track of their work and project hours, which is especially helpful if you’re managing many clients or projects to monitor how much time you’re investing in each one.

Time tracking tools can also improve accountability, ensuring that all team members are putting in the appropriate amount of work, and effectively managing their workloads. Setting up alerts for key scheduling milestones can also help to improve decision-making.

Document Storage and File Sharing Tools

One of the major benefits of remote teams is their ability to collaborate over great distances and different time zones. As with any collaborative project, it’s helpful to have access to files anywhere, anytime, and they must be stored securely. 

Additionally, your team needs to be able to share documents and edit them in real-time. Dropbox, GoogleDrive, and Microsoft OneDrive are all good tools for this. Cloud-based productivity software like Google’s G-Suite (which includes Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides) and Microsoft Office 365 feature public cloud storage integration that allows multiple users to edit documents and track revisions real-time easily. Online whiteboard and presentation software platforms like Prezi, Conceptboard, and Scribblar also allow teams to develop ideas collaboratively and deliver presentations as a group.

Get Better Insights with Omnia Assessments

While technology may never be the same as face-to-face interaction, it can help teams and clients meet, connect, and remain productive from anywhere in the world. Of course, remote collaboration tools are only as effective as the leaders who implement them. Unless effective strategies for managing remote teams accompany them, their impact on team performance will be limited. Behavioral and cognitive assessment data can provide helpful guidance when it comes to identifying the specific needs of remote employees.

Administered as part of the pre-employment hiring process or as a tool for professional development, Omnia assessments are independently validated as 93% accurate and free of bias forms. Our team constantly works to adapt to the latest tools, technologies, and testing methodologies to provide you with the best possible insights for employee assessment. Contact us today for a consultation about your company’s specific assessment needs.

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