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It is your new employee’s first day. Anxiety is building; questions are swirling. Onsite new hires worry about getting lost, talking to new people at the water cooler, and finding good places to have lunch. Remote work provides a whole new set of concerns, both big and small. Will my internet go out right in the middle of my first training session? Is my background professional enough or should I enable the blur setting? Will I mesh with my manager’s leadership style? Will my coworkers like me? In either case, the most fundamental question is: Is this the right place for me? This is the question you must address, so your new employees feel comfortable enough to learn all the new things they need to learn, ask the questions they need to ask, and bring the knowledge, skills, and abilities they were hired for to their new roles. You have three opportunities to impress upon your employees what your corporate culture truly is and how they can be a part of it—before, during, and after the hiring process.

It all begins before the hiring process. When candidates search for an employment opportunity, they are usually looking at many different companies. One way to stand out from the crowd is to be clear about who your company is right at the outset. Take a look at your website and social media presence. Better yet, have people who do not work at your company look at it and provide feedback on what they believe your company does and what kind of company you are. Is it a long-established company with a storied history? A plucky startup? Finding its rhythm and about to explode onto the scene as a major player? Who is your customer? Is it a niche market or something with mass appeal? What makes your company stand out? Being clear about who you are as a company helps attract candidates who will be a good fit.

During the hiring process there are several touchpoints, and your culture should be infused at each of them. Ensuring that you accurately represent the role in your job ad is paramount to finding the right person. Be clear about the level of authority, the daily duties and responsibilities, short-term and long-term goals are also important. Your job ads should include a small blurb about the company. It should succinctly convey enough for the applicant to have a high-level understanding of your culture. Where you place the job ad can also provide insight about your company. Beyond online job boards, you can post it on association sites with which your company is affiliated as well as associations for the industry that your candidate may be a part of. For example, if you are looking for an experienced corporate trainer, posting the job on the Association for Talent Development’s (ATD) site would be appropriate.

Once the prospect is intrigued by your job ad, the next touchpoint is the application process.  When the candidate applies online, is the look and feel branded with your colors and fonts? Is the logo visible? Is the application itself long and arduous—a common complaint among applicants—or simple and quick? Does the candidate receive any sort of confirmation that their application has been received? Are the next steps clear?

The interview is next. Normally, candidates come to your office for the interview where they meet one or more people from your company and see your company’s culture first-hand. When conducting interviews remotely, you can take a moment to explain a bit about your company at the beginning of the interview. Perhaps you can tell them how you found the corporate culture different from other companies where you previously worked?

Finally, after you hire your new employee, you have a chance to demonstrate the culture during onboarding. Prior to their first day, send an email that provides clear instructions, their logon credentials, and how they will learn to use your system(s). If you send them a laptop, include some branded items like a mousepad. Make it personal and fun. Print the history of the company and the mission statement and values. Your remote orientation should match your in-person one.  At small companies, the new hire may be solely matched with a mentor who shows them the ropes. At a mid-sized company, you may assign the new hire to a buddy as well as have them attend a brief orientation. At a large company, there may be an orientation that goes on for multiple days. Formal orientation programs can be moved online as other training has been.

This is where a personality assessment can add extra value beyond hiring for job fit. Share the candidate’s report with the trainer, mentor, and direct supervisor so they can adapt to meet the motivational drivers of your new hire(s). You can also provide your new hire(s) with one of Omnia’s self-awareness reports as a way to build trust, create transparency, and inspire open communication in a remote environment.

Millions of us are still working (and living) at a distance due to COVID-19. We’re heading into another holiday season socially distanced, and it’s having an impact. Even if you’re taking steps to help remote workers prevent burnout, balance working from home with homelife, and avoid Zoom fatigue, it can still be a difficult time for many.

In fact, it can have a negative impact on overall health. Did you know an article in Public Policy & Aging Report states that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day? In 2021, we’re well aware of smoking as a bad habit and detriment to our health, but we’re only at the beginning of seeing how loneliness and isolation impact the masses.

Fortunately, there are answers and they’re generally easier than kicking nicotine. With these practical actions, you can help your remote employees build strong social ties, connect to their colleagues and leadership, and promote stronger communication – all of which help battle loneliness and isolation.

Why are social interactions and social support important?

Besides the obvious health benefits, there are business benefits as well. Research shows social support is important because it can cushion us against a variety of anxieties, including workplace stress and isolation, that can compromise health. Better health means fewer sick days. Less stress often means more focus. Keeping people engaged benefits everyone. It makes sense to put a few things in place to facilitate social interactions. studied employee experience and found key aspects of workplace culture that affect how connected and supported employees feel. They have discovered several key points that contribute to the well-being and mental health of employees:

So, what can you do to support your employees and bring people together?

  1. Encourage compassionate activities

Giving back, with time or money, has proven to produce feel-good results. Actual “acts of kindness” can reduce loneliness as well as anxiety-producing hormones, so encouraging people to get involved could also improve their mental health.

People love to feel good, so encouraging these acts and supporting your team’s efforts can benefit them and your company. People who feel good about what they do are more likely to stay engaged and champion their workplace.

At Omnia, we’re discussing local charities to support as a company-wide activity, and many of our employees have activities they support outside of work. Perhaps one of our next ice breakers (see #4) can be about “acts of kindness”.

Evidence shows that online acts of kindness are as beneficial as face-to-face acts of generosity. There are several ways to encourage philanthropy while working remotely:

  1. Celebrate special events

It can be easy to forego celebrations when in remote or hybrid work environments. While remote work is great for flexibility and reducing commuting stress (and cost), it can also be easy to overlook achievements.

There’s good news here as well. "Celebrations” don’t have to be elaborate. If you know your employees, you can provide a personalized touch or a thoughtful gift with your verbal congrats. A little customization goes a long way.

We celebrated Tony Curtachio during our All Company meeting to acknowledge 25 years at Omnia. Among other things, we offered congratulations and shared cake from a local favorite, Wright’s Gourmet House.

Some ideas to celebrate with your remote workforce:

  1. Initiate informal activities

In an office, people tend to gather informally or pop over to each other's offices or desks throughout the week. These exchanges may seem trivial, but they are important to bring people together. In a remote or hybrid environment, it can be easy to not talk to a colleague for days, even weeks. It’s important to encourage interactions across departments when possible. It can build camaraderie and facilitate future communication.

Consider monthly check-ins with team members you don’t work with directly. A colleague of mine and I set up a monthly check-in when we realized we only interacted during last-minute projects, and the monthly 20-minute calls helped build a different level of communication. We regularly catch up on projects we need clarity on but also life and family things we would not discuss in a larger group. Encourage these 20 to 30-minute blocks of time; anecdotally, they’re useful in strengthening communication.

  1. Cheer on “ice breakers”

At Omnia, we often have ice breakers during our cross-department monthly meetings to get everyone engaged and chatting (aloud or in the chat). It’s a fantastic way to learn about the colleagues you don’t see throughout the week.

  1. Check in on a 1:1 level

Supporting employee well-being works best when individualized. This can be leader-employee or peer-to-peer. Even better if you have a variety of 1:1 interactions.

These chats can be work-related but open to other topics or stressors. Sometimes, all it takes is a quick 5 minutes to talk through the workload to make you feel heard and less stressed. It also helps prioritize assignments and tasks to say them aloud to someone else.

How Can Omnia Help?

No two people are the same. Every person on your team will need varying levels of interaction and engagement. It may not be the people you suspect, especially if you have onboarded people remotely or have staff you haven’t seen regularly in months or more.

It can take months or even years on the job for you to uncover every person's specific communication style and engagement needs on your own. In the meantime, your employees can become frustrated and less engaged or heading toward burnout if they have a manager who does not understand how to motivate them.

The Omnia Team is here to help. We help throughout the employee lifecycle to support you. Our assessments offer real, immediate insight into your team including ways to motivate them individually and challenges to watch out for so you can coach a solution before there’s a problem. At the end of the day, we all just need to communicate in the methods that best fit our personalities. With the Omnia Assessment, you are leagues closer than you would be on your own.

Working remotely certainly has its perks for your team members. Sometimes, doing so is a necessity. But, prolonged (or indefinite) physical separation can cause employees to feel lonely and disconnected from their work. Unfortunately, when their morale drops, so does their productivity. 

As a leader, it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s your responsibility to keep your group unified, high functioning, highly effective, and in good spirits. How do you accomplish this when team members are scattered across the country or even the globe?

Bonus read: Conflict Resolution for Teams Working Remotely.

Virtual Team Building

Enter: virtual team building. Team building involves getting employees together so that they can feel connected and learn about one another. Done right, the process can result in a tight-knit group that communicates effectively and collaborates to get things done for your organization. For best results, it should be done regularly and regarded as a critical business activity. Virtual team building is taking this important practice online.

Here are four main principles to keep in mind as you design your virtual team building program:

Let’s look at each in detail.

Always Communicate

Clear, continuous communication is always necessary for your team to function at its best. However, it becomes even more critical when your employees are working alone in their homes. They can’t walk down the hall, pop their head into an office, and say, “got a minute?” That means they need to feel comfortable communicating with you and their team members in other ways.

So, how do you ensure that information and support flow as they should? Try implementing these tips:

Use Tools

When your team is virtual, in-person meetings are obviously out. That means you’ll need to find other ways to bring your team together and keep them on the same page. Fortunately, there are many tools you can use to make gatherings and collaboration a snap

For example, Asana and Trello can help your virtual team keep projects organized. Platforms like Slack facilitate conversation throughout the workday. Programs like Zoom allow your team to actually see each other through video chat and are great for presentations. Of course, there are countless other options on the market. Your team’s unique needs will determine which specific tools to implement.

Have Fun

Your employees are people outside of work that have their own interests and like to blow off steam. When you encourage them to be their true selves during business hours, you’ll boost their morale and gain their trust. When you provide opportunities for your team members to be themselves together, they’ll forge lasting bonds that translate to improved employee engagement and productivity.

Here are a few ways your team can do this virtually:

Grow Together

Your team members crave professional development opportunities, whether they’re onsite or remote. When you provide them with a chance to learn new information and skills, you increase their loyalty to your organization, strengthen your team's talent, and set them up for future success. From a team-building perspective, it’s vital to give your group time to grow together.

Here’s how you could do it virtually:

How Omnia Can Help

At Omnia, we believe that truly understanding your team members is the key to leading them effectively. Our behavioral and cognitive assessments reveal deep insight into each employee’s strengths, challenges, and work preferences. This knowledge can help you create the ideal virtual team-building program for your group. The information you’ll get is so good that you might want to encourage results sharing as a team-building exercise!

Final Thoughts

Team building is essential for having a high-producing, tight-knit employee group. But, when your team members are remote, you need to get a little creative to make it happen. With the right tools, some employee intel, a willingness to experiment, and a few online-friendly activities at hand, virtual team building is possible.

Tell us: Which virtual team-building methods work best in your organization?

Speak to the Author!

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Please tell me this has happened to you too. You go to Teams with thirty seconds to spare before the meeting starts to discover the meeting was set up in Zoom. Zoom says there’s a meeting already in progress (yes, and I’m supposed to be in it!), and it won’t let you in. Apparently, someone forgot to “open up the room.” What? Now I’m late, and I haven’t even gotten in my car.

I’ve also been blindsided (I’m a bit dramatic) with a GoToConnect meeting when I didn’t realize we were even using GoToConnect for meetings. Of course, I was trying to enter using Zoom. And to make things really interesting, I’m part of a 3-person special project team; we meet using Teams video chat. We call the team leader using that handy little phone icon. At least that’s how we’ve done it the last four times we’ve met. Only this time, after I click the phone icon, at the exact right time, I’m met with a “why didn’t you use the meeting ID link in the meeting, invite?” And now, for reasons that make no sense, I’m the one who has everyone confused.  Now, admittedly, it was on the invite, but who reads those whenever you’ve been meeting with this work team the same way for a month? Sigh. At least I had the right platform at that time.  Celebrate the little wins.

Being in the personality business, I can tell you; I have high attention to detail. That’s a tall column 8 on the Omnia profile. I like nothing more than being prepared and in the know on how things are going down. Also, although I am an introvert, I love our video meeting and collaboration tools. Each one has something about it that I appreciate. Teams is great for internal stuff, and the screen share is so easy; we’re about to experiment with break-out sessions next time, so that will be cool.  Zoom is great for both internal and external meetings. It’s easy to access, and everyone seems to know how to use it. But here’s my first piece of advice:

Tip 1: Have a consistent way of doing meetings. As a structured person, it would be nice to know that for all internal team meetings, we’ll use Teams, not Zoom, not Skype, not GoToConnect...Teams. And that we will use Zoom for meetings involving external people. Just some easy formula I can rely on. And truth be told, this is good for all personality types because likely your low attention to detail staff will only be skimming your invite and the high attention to detail staff want some structure, so it’s a win-win. Basically, if you’re throwing darts to decide which virtual meeting tool to use for your next meeting, someone is bound to get frustrated. If you crave a little spontaneity, leave the last-minute surprises to impromptu video chats with one or two other people. You could all play virtual rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to pick the platform. But the bigger the group, the longer it takes to sort out the issues when one, two, or three people make the same mistake and attempt to join a meeting using the wrong platform.

Now, regardless of what platform you are using, let's talk about ways to make the most of every meeting that plays into each person's motivators on your staff.  This is where behavioral insight can be so helpful.

Tip 2: Use the chat feature to appeal to your cautious, introverted team members. Ensure they know chat (typing, not talking) is available and that someone will be monitoring the chatbox for questions. It's best if the chat moderator is not the presenter/meeting leader. Get a volunteer who can alert the meeting leader that there is a question. We have the moderator read the question aloud, but we don’t call out who asked the question. The reserved analytics on your team will love you for this. They don’t mind being seen but talking in front of the group can be just as uncomfortable for them on a video call as it is in an in-person meeting. It’s too easy for people to feel like they are interrupting.

Tip 3: Always prepare feeder questions to get the ball rolling or to fill in dead air. Instead of asking if anyone has questions and crossing your fingers that someone does, throw out a question in the chatbox. This helps ease any anxiety people might be feeling about asking the first question or wondering if their question is too basic. This especially helps the more introverted, risk-averse people on your team. Of course, there are no bad questions. And if the meeting is on how to use a new software -or virtual meeting platform – you’ll get plenty of questions.

Tip 4: Gamify where you can. We meet monthly to sharpen skills on a wide range of topics, from new software and business trends to Omnia products and services; we call it the Omnia Learning Lab. Our last meeting was all about using SharePoint (a great collaboration tool), and we broke the ice using Kahoot, a fun quiz app. Most people enjoy games regardless of their personality type, though this is a great way to pull in the driven, impatient people on your team. We are also following up that meeting with a virtual scavenger hunt on SharePoint to encourage people to get in there and explore the application (and possibly win an Amazon gift card – as if Amazon doesn’t come to my door enough). So, sit back and watch while the competitive streak is ignited in your team. We have a week, and I’m in it to win it.

Tip 5: Use share screen; many people are visual learners and need to actually see what you are talking about. Plus, in remote meetings, you need ways to keep people fully engaged. If you happen to be meeting on a cloud-based collaboration tool, you can have people go directly to the application and give them tasks that you can observe. This way, people are doing the actions themselves, and you can diagnose issues in real-time. This is great for hands-on learners and keeps those fast-paced competitors on your team engaged in the process.

Share screen and collaboration tools are also a must for brainstorming meetings and special project teamwork so that everyone can be involved in the process.

So, embrace technology and provide your team with virtual meetings that are even more productive than in-person meetings, minus that one person whose audio never seems to work.

Remember when I asked who reads the invite every time? Me. That’s who. I’m paying attention now, so pick your virtual meeting platform and send over that invite. I’m ready!

I went back to the office for about a week in June; I needed to get out of the house, and I had a temporary childcare solution. Needless to say, I ran with that opportunity.

Currently, we have one employee going into the office daily. Really, he never left (thanks, Steve). And from time to time, others go in solo for various reasons, perhaps to use office equipment they don’t have at home or because they need a change of scenery. It’s also relatively stress-free to use the office; it feels safe since no one else is there. Oh, right, sorry, Steve.

Driving up to the building and parking in my usual space felt surreal. How could something I’ve done so much feel so weird? To be honest, driving felt weird too, but that’s another story. When I first stepped into the office, the thing that struck me was the stale, abandoned feeling of the place. It felt apocalyptic, as if we had all disappeared at once, which is sort of what happened. The calendar on the wall, along with our fun monthly bulletin board items, were still firmly displaying March as if time had stopped. It was… creepy. I took the old notices down, did a little cleaning up, and thought about the big and little things we needed to do to get our office ready for everyone again.

First, of course, is what to call this re-entry process. I thought I made up a cool new buzzword: reboarding - the process of bringing employees back to the office after working from home for a few months (or more). But, as usual, I was late to the party, and it’s already a thing. That’s okay; better late than never.

If you have not yet fully reopened your office, it’s probably a good idea to think about what needs to happen to make going back to the office a success. A good reboarding process can help.

Here are seven tips for reboarding success:

1) Have an A-Z plan. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) observes that onboarding occurs at four levels, called the “Four Cs”: Compliance, Clarification, Culture, and Connection. You can use those same C’s to design your reboarding process. Compliance: Focus on safety precautions. Clarification: Put everything in writing, but use multiple communication methods to deliver and reinforce the information. Culture: Keep it consistent with how your organization operates. Connection: Keep it real. Think about the emotional impacts, and make it fun.

2) Ask for input. While there is certainly more and more information available on creating new procedures revolving around preventing the spread of Covid-19, it can’t hurt to ask what things would make your team feel more comfortable returning to work. You might hear some ideas that you never considered, but that makes a ton of sense for your organization.

3) Create safety procedures. They should be written. There is no single recipe that is best for every organization. Each must adopt a safety process that matches the operational and personnel structure of the company. Some companies might have very little need for face-to-face interactions both internally and externally, while others depend heavily on those interactions. Look for sample procedures online, and modify them to fit your needs. From masks to hand sanitation stations, there are many things to consider. Also, think about how both small and large meetings will be handled. Do you have space for an all-company gathering after you factor in social distancing? Or will you need to continue conducting those meetings via video from individual workspaces?

4) Make changes. Now that you’ve seen what can and can’t be done with a remote workforce, are there some changes that can be made to how you did business pre-pandemic? For example, does everyone need to come back to the office every day, or can you implement a new remote schedule that allows employees to work from home one or more days per week? Is it time to move from a formal dress code to something more casual? This is a perfect time to make changes.

5) Freshen up. Avoid having employees walk into an office that feels stale, dusty, and abandoned. If you have a cleaning service, ask for some extra TLC before everyone gets back. Also, get a small group together to spruce up the place and add a little something fun and personal to each workspace.

6) Communicate. Communication is critical. And no matter what the problem is, effective communication should always be part of the solution. Set up a formal communication plan to check in with the leaders and staff to promptly identify problems and resolve them.

7) Evaluate. Evaluate the reboarding process with your employees after 30 days. Ask how you did and what feedback they have for making daily operational improvements, especially regarding long-term safety measures.

These are scary, uncertain times, so let your team know that you are taking this seriously and putting energy into getting it right. Make sure they know that their health and well-being are priorities for the organization.

Just like with effective onboarding, an effective reboarding process will have many benefits. Employees will appreciate their jobs and their companies, commit to the organizational mission, perform more effectively, and even experience less stress, which we all need right now.

Remember, as your employees return to the office, it’s going to feel strange.  Following these measures will keep it from feeling creepy and ensure a smooth return for everyone.

So, Steve, we’re ready to come back.  Are you ready for us?

When you think about conflict, you probably picture two (or more) employees disagreeing face-to-face in a meeting or common space at the office. It’s out in the open and usually very apparent. When you think of conflict resolution, you probably picture those involved sitting with a mediator to discuss challenges, miscommunications, and work toward solutions.

This format is tried-and-true in a traditional setting. But what about the current workplace, where employees are remote and navigating new technologies in addition to outside stressors that may be less apparent?

The current world events, the pandemic, and civil unrest are not the only catalysts to more workers going remote, either full-time or on a hybrid schedule. According to a study from October 2019, the number of people who work from home had increased by 140% since 2005.

Additionally, it can be difficult getting everyone involved in a conflict on the same phone call, and emails rarely help clarify once an issue has escalated.

Is there Really More Conflict in Remote Teams?

Not necessarily. Most conflicts arise due to communication issues. This is true in the workplace and personal relationships, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. What’s important is that you understand how dynamics, and even behaviors, can shift in a remote versus physical space and how each team member communicates. Armed with this knowledge, which behavioral and personality assessments can assist with, you can head off miscommunication before it becomes a real problem.

There are three truths to virtual environments and human behavior that can help you prepare:

  1. Virtual environments empower people to be harsh.
  2. Remote employees have a higher level of insecurity.
  3. Remote communication is healthier for some employees.

We’ll explore each of these then discuss steps to manage conflict among a remote team.

Virtual Environments Empower People to Be Harsh

If you’ve spent any time on social media or message boards, you know the internet is a hotbed for trolls. Even in professional communication, employees can feel empowered to be more brazen, or short, in responses and quick to share opinions without thinking that they may have held their tongue on if they were looking the person in the eyes. If you are a woman and/or BIPOC on LinkedIn, you know what we mean.

In fact, this behavior is so common it has a name: online disinhibition effect. “Online disinhibition is the lack of restraint one feels when communicating online in comparison to communicating in-person.” (Wikipedia). This effect ranges from sharing personal thoughts and fears that would otherwise remain hidden to using rude language and making threats. The distance, coupled with a lack of immediate response, can make employees more cavalier and confident in what they’re saying.

Tone is another consideration. Even if a colleague isn’t experiencing online disinhibition or trying to be rude, wording or tone can sometimes be misconstrued by the recipients. Ever bristle at a curt email response? If you’re in the habit of sending quick emails, which we’ve all done, know that it can cause co-workers to worry about or misconstrue responses.

Remote Employees Have Higher Levels of Insecurity

This may impact 100% of remote workers more than those sent home for health and safety reasons; however, it’s a good factor to consider when working with a team. The lack of physical presence can warp an employee’s perception of their status, affecting how they interpret the tone of digital communication.

Another study polled more than 1,100 employees to learn whether they feel connected while working remotely. This was again before the current events, but remote employees felt they couldn’t fight for their priorities, that on-site colleagues gossiped about them. That project changes were not communicated to them properly.

Obviously, these worries will impact how individuals read a written communication and can affect how they perform and how they feel connected to the company culture.

Remote Communication Is Healthier for Some Employees

All that said, some employees will actually thrive in remote environments. It’s not only your less vocal colleagues, either. While remote teams seem like they could promote miscommunication or arguments, they can actually help the focus stay on the work.

When you’re on the phone or communicating through email, you’re less likely to detect annoyances, including eye-rolling and other cues, which allow you to focus on the work and the work's content.

Remote employees can express their frustration without others noticing and move along in the work process without creating internal issues or causing a negative reaction.

Half the battle of reducing and resolving conflicts within remote teams is quite simply enhancing communication and employee confidence within the organization. Remote work isn’t why conflicts occur, though it can lead to increased confusion when not managed correctly.

7 Steps to Manage Conflict in Remote Teams

Conflicts and conflict resolution are part of every company. It’s very human, and companies are made up of humans, so there’s no avoiding it completely. If you react quickly and take concrete steps to find solutions, you, your team, and your company will be in a better position than hoping interpersonal or interdepartmental conflicts will resolve themselves.

Identify Gaps in Communication or Sources of Uncertainty

Start by identifying where remote communication is failing and what sources of conflict are common in your organization. These four common factors tend to lead to conflict in the remote workplace:

You may notice many of these sources of conflict intertwine. For example, a remote employee who does not receive the communication they need for a project leaves them uncertain about their role and overall goals.

Once you have the conflict source, you can take steps to solve it and prevent it in the future.

Train Managers to Look for Behavioral Changes

Managers play a key role in conflict escalation and resolution. Unsurprisingly, those trained to identify and solve conflicts will be better off than those who cannot identify the symptoms. Not only will management fare better with some instruction, training, and insight into their teams, so will the team dynamic, the company, and the bottom line.

It can be helpful to watch for behavioral changes, as these may indicate a miscommunication is occurring, and conflict management may be necessary. A few examples of behavior changes include:

Much like you’d lean on physical cues to signal crucial changes in behavior while in-person, while these cues can’t replace casual, in-person contact, they are important to recognize.

We know you’re very busy and don’t always have time to notice small behavioral changes. However, noticing and addressing these changes can prevent major problems (like project delays and employee turnover) from surfacing in the future.

Encourage Employees to Assume Positive Intent

Most miscommunication is caused by employee perception. Understanding this and developing trust within your team can enable them to assume positive intent. This is helpful when you’re busy on another project resulting in a lack of communication or a curt response. Rather than viewing this as a personal slight, your employees will view it with positive intent and know it’s not personal.

As the manager, it can encourage and remind your remote teams to assume the sender's intent is positive and innocent.

However, if it becomes clear that there is a problem or conflict, temporarily stop communicating. Take a step back to gain perspective. Breathe. Then consider whether involving management or another mediator is necessary to reach a solution.

Professional disagreements happen. That’s not the problem here. We want to prevent conflict if possible and then keep it from escalating to a personal fight if a disagreement occurs.

Don’t Downplay Minor Problems.

It can be tempting to avoid conflict by downplaying an issue. What you’re actually doing is setting the stage for more problems and challenges with mediation.

Consider a scenario in which an employee decides their overreacting to a perceived problem or slight and stays silent to keep the peace. Rather than addressing the issue, they’re actually normalizing the other person’s actions while delegitimizing their own feelings. Now consider what would happen should this dynamic continue. The peace-keeping employee most likely becomes increasingly disturbed and frustrated by the non-normalized behavior.

While it can be uncomfortable to address problems, you must model for and encourage your employees to address issues. Employees should have access to communication and problem-solving training, while managers must learn how to mediate and thoroughly address issues.

Develop a Clear Process for Handling Conflict

You have processes for everything else. Well, you need one for problem-solving and conflict resolution. Like every other scenario, this sets the stage, so you’re ready when conflict arises, and no one needs to panic. A sample process for remote teams dealing with conflict includes:

  1. Identify the problem: one or more remote team members explain that they’re having a disagreement and ask to schedule time with a mediator to discuss the problem(s).
  2. Hold a small summit: the disagreeing team members work with one or more mediators to address the problems and voice their concerns. All sides listen and look for ways to clarify or compromise on the issues.
  3. Follow up in writing: once an agreement is made, team members send the terms of the compromise via email for everyone to reference in the future.

Instead of bottling up problems or escalating conflicts, this process helps the entire team learn to identify problems and cleanly handle them without turning professional disagreements personal.

When your team has a conflict resolution process to follow, employees and managers can solve issues without escalating them to the CEO.

Create Goal-Focused Conflict Plans

This one may be a surprise to you if you’re new to leading a team. Many employees believe their managers expect all workers to like each other and get along. While this utopian scenario sounds nice, it’s not likely, especially the larger your organization grows. Personality clashes occur. Therefore, creating conflict resolution strategies that are goal-oriented can go further and last longer than expecting employees to become friendly.

It helps if you clarify the end goal of conflict resolution to the business upfront, rather than forcing employees to pretend they get along.

Set Up Team-Building and Engagement Opportunities

You probably know that team-building is a great way to build communication and foster a group mentality in your organization. If you’re new to managing a remote workforce, you may be at a loss how this translates into a virtual world. One way to encourage team-building is to ensure your remote employees are involved in weekly updates, cross-department meetings, regular check-ins, and maybe even a water-cooler talk time to let people meet and chat about things other than work if they have a moment in their day.

One easy way to encourage engagement is during your weekly updates. Even if it takes less than 15 minutes, open with an ice breaker question (“what are you reading/watching/listening to this week?”) and give your remote team space to ask questions and learn after the updates. It’s easy to overlook, but these calls are essential for making your remote employees feel like they’re part of the team.

How Omnia Can Help

Omnia offers an easy-to-implement behavioral assessment so you can get started right away. Results are instant, digestible, and actionable. If you want even more insight, our team can provide you with an in-depth analysis of your assessment data. Remember: we’re here to help you improve your hiring and interview process so that your company continues to thrive!

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