Handling remote teams can become quite a challenging task at times, especially when a conflict arises. Since your workforce is not there in front of you, assessing personalities, listening to complaints, sorting matters can become quite puzzling.
How are you supposed to assess the authenticity of the matter? How can you manage and resolve a conflict in a way that doesn't hurt either of the members and preserves the healthy work culture of your digital workplace?
Well, working all this time during the pandemic has taught us one thing: managing remote teams is a complete job on its own and so we tend to have several mini teams within one. For example, if you have a content department, you might have a lead or a senior content writer supervising the juniors.
The purpose is not only to lead but to manage as well, i.e., both work and work relations. Here in this guide, we'll look into some best ways to manage remote teams and resolve arising conflicts.
Conduct Regular Team Meetings
First, you need to get everyone together and on the same page. For that, you need to arrange regular meetings. You can arrange these on a weekly basis.
The question arises here: how do regular meetings help manage and resolve conflicts?
Well, that's complete psychology there. Staying at home means juggling between life and work. Some of your employees feel more present and accountable for their home duties, compared to work because the home environment is more alive.
As a consequence, they may slack off at work or be reluctant to cooperate. This, in turn, could lead to the development of conflicts between employees who work dedicatedly and employees who remain held back by their environment.
So, to keep everyone on the same page and the work environment as alive as possible, regular meetings are necessary. Also, we'd recommend hosting virtual office meetups or parties for those who have recruited their team during the pandemic only. Since your employees never met one another, the distances between them could be unconquerable. Any slight conflict could break your team apart.
Build a Healthy & Interactive Work Environment
As mentioned earlier, building an environment and work culture is necessary even as you work from home. It keeps everyone in the same boat. Now that does not only mean in terms of work. Regular meetings could help your employees keep up with everyone with regard to work.
But what about those lunch gatherings and post-work discussions? How can you bring that back?
It's easy! Arrange online and interactive games for your team. There are several virtual team-building activities these days, including trivia, escape rooms, bingo games, etc. These quizzes, virtual reality games, and creative games help your employees explore their potential, develop a bonding with co-workers, and also understand their work mate's nature.
When they know their work partner's ways of handling things or responding, they may not consider emoji-less texts offensive and rude. Similarly, they'd be willing to understand one another when they begin associating memories with the user on the other end.
Again, how does it help manage and resolve conflicts? Well, it does so by preventing conflicts in the first place.
Plus, even when two parties come at a conflicting point, they will have a better understanding when one comes up with an explanation or defense.
Listen & Understand Both Sides
Now, when presented with a conflict, it's your job as an authority to listen patiently. And you've to listen to both sides. Even if the other side does not approach you or defends themselves, even if they are unaware of the complaint filed against them, you have to inquire what they have to say about it?
Since the exchange of information will be over the internet, we recommend you take a one-to-one video session with each person. If you deem it appropriate and necessary (depending on the nature of conflict), you can take them both on call for a one-to-one session over the matter too.
Scrutinize the Situation
Don't just believe what you listen to. Instead, investigate.
Lying is quite very easy on the internet. Most people think no one's going to single them out and track their web of lies to decode the truth.
At times, remote workers fall for the belief too. But it falls upon your shoulders as an authority to correct this belief.
When faced with a conflict, do your best to get to the roots. Track down what happened and what didn't. How can you do that?
Well, it's super simple. Check for the claims they make. If the issue is about absence from the workplace, you can go back and check the attendance chart. Similarly, if it's about quality lacking or unequal contribution, you can check individual participation.
Some of the best apps to track your employee's performance include:
If all else fails, check for their previous behavior at work. Assess their level of sincerity, integrity, and honesty concerning work. It will reveal a lot about their morals, personalities, and preferences.
Don’t Delay Issues
Quick action – It is one additional element when dealing with your remote team's conflict. You can't schedule the matter for later consideration as it may deteriorate things even further.
You ought to look into the matter immediately and urgently. Why? Well, that's because remote work already feels too distant. Any delays from your end may make the involved parties impatient and aggressive due to which they may take extreme measures. Overall, it will impact workflow negatively and affect the general performance badly.
You are a leader for your team. And that does not only apply to work tasks. But it also applies to your behavior at work.
For that very reason, you ought to pay fair attention to personal reputation management. Ensure that your peers view you in a positive light. In case there's any negative opinion prevailing, set it right on a priority basis.
Once you take the lead in fixing things, setting up a positive reputation, and working for the greater good, your workforce will follow. Plus, it is you who will set examples for tolerance and patience level. Demonstrate healthy tolerance levels with your behavior so that your employees get inspired. If you feel your practical efforts are getting wasted, feel free to voice them on LinkedIn.
It will set up a direct example for your employees and prevent any conflicts from occurring. It may even help figure solutions for disputed matters.
In a nutshell, managing and resolving conflicts in remote teams might as well be amongst the most challenging tasks of life. You have the patience to sit back and listen. You have the quality of being humble and staying dedicated. But not everyone on your team can do that, and this explains why you're leading. So, be prepared to deal with the stuff of all sorts and apply the strategies above to deal effectively and successfully.
This article was published in FAMILY BUSINESS, Spring 1999 Jack and Alyce Schmidt started Spacesaver Systems Inc. in Kensington, Maryland, 25 years ago. A dozen years later the youngest of...By David Gage, Dawn Martin, John Gromala