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  • Writer's pictureMegha Sondhi

How to Manage Fully Distributed Teams – Best Practices (Strategies and Tools)

Start-ups should be virtual fast. Here are the best practices for how to lead a productive remote/distributed team.

Start-up founders have the responsibility to raise a capable team around their product while engaging them for the longer-terms. Hiring decisions have to be fast and effective. Most start-ups face high attrition especially for operational and sales jobs due to a lack of engagement. How to tackle the problem of hiring the best talent while ensuring your organization is an accelerant for candidates' careers.

Hiring good talent is one of the bigger challenges an organization faces. You don’t have to be a certain size, to project a great employer brand. McKinsey has one of the best employer branding strategies, being a McKinsey alum can open many doors to a promising career. Similarly, the younger workforce sees start-ups as a rite of passage to building a great career, Start-ups should at all costs leverage this advantage to build a dream team.

Our current time has pivoted us on to the forefront of virtual work. What organizations need are online collaboration tools, team-building processes that we run using technology like teleconferences and screen sharing. Successful distributed teams involve building strong processes and team culture, to hire the best talent regardless of their location. Distributed teams are beneficial for start-ups looking to save costs on real estate.

The past few weeks have shown us that we don’t have to be in the same space to get work done. Collaborative tech has advanced quickly with many start-ups raising funds. Here is how as a start-up you can build effective distributed teams:

1. Establishing Key Results(Objective)

OKRs have been made popular by Google, John Doerr, first cooked up OKRs at Intel, and then eventually introduced them to google leading to the famous silicon valley dream work culture.

Objectives and Key Results, also known as OKRs, give people focus by defining their responsibilities and the measurable deliverables that they’re expected to produce for the team. Clarify your team’s overall objectives and results, then assist each individual in determining their own objectives and results to support the larger picture.

2. Institutionalizing Operating Norms

Define the team norms to guide your work. Consider creating an “Operating Norms Chart” that outlines how your team will function associated with working hours, using specific technologies, meeting agendas, business processes, or anything that’s important to make explicit.

3. Agenda-setting for Every Meeting

Always use a structured agenda for all teleconferences, videoconferences, and web meetings. Even face-to-face meetings can suffer from poorly articulated objectives and unstructured processes. Having a transparent norm for your meeting process ensures most are prepared and knows the way to fully participate

It saves time and breeds clarity into the OKRs

4. Use a Dashboard

It’s easy for team members to feel isolated working remotely. Creating a visible dashboard helps people understand the large picture and the way they fit into it. Dashboards can include strategies, project tasks, success measures, team members’ contact information, or anything that shows how individuals’ work fits into the broader team’s work, and the way the team’s efforts fit into the broader goals and processes of the organization. Basecamp, Slack, Miro & many such apps come with inbuilt dashboards to check progress.

5. Clearly Document Business Processes

For many organizations, business processes aren’t fully defined. Informal processes might work with everyone in the same office, but things can fall apart when people need to do fairly complex things and they aren’t in the same room. Use the shift to remote work to interact with your team to define or clarify your priority business processes.

6. Actively Utilize Technology

Technology tools allow teams to run real-time meetings, manage projects, and more. Technology is effective or ineffective based on whether it supports a team’s business processes. Leverage technology but don’t be enamored by it. Make sure everyone knows exactly what tools are used for what, when, and why.

Creating a distributed team is not hard and goal setting in a distributed team can be executed smoothly as long as your organization goals are aligned with what gives your employees a purpose!

If you are looking for ways to get started, we can help you get started!

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