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WorkspaceRemote teams are filled with diverse personalities and this can be a huge asset.

Nina Fountain from Transformed Teams says we should imagine this example, “A meeting starts out as normal, but you quickly realise that you’ve heard a lot more of one person’s voice than almost everyone else combined. Meet The Broadcaster – a personality type more concerned with filling the air with their own views than coming to a helpful, jointly owned outcome. Less collaborator, more dominator. They don’t seem to realise the offputting nature of their dialogue or more accurately, monologue”.

Nina says as your team’s leader, it’s your job to build an environment where teamwork can thrive. She says there are 3 factors that help to create genuine collaboration in remote and flexible teams, that encourage inclusion and foster the benefits that come from diversity of opinions.

1. Build an empathetic mindset

Based on a Forbes article, empathy is the top quality of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Nina points out that an empathetic team mindset creates better communication and resilience and helps to mitigate any personality roadblocks that cause unneeded hurdles for a team.

“Empathy is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes, to understand their perspective, acknowledge their emotions and opinions and react with compassion,” says Nina.

“The physical distance of your remote team can create psychological distance, which makes empathy harder to create,” she adds.

Nina suggests the following ways you can build empathy in your team:

  • Encourage active listening. This includes being present for conversations and demonstrating that you care through your reaction.
  • Give five positive comments for one negative piece of criticism. Stacking the compliment-to-criticism ratio in favour of compliments helps people grow, instead of dwelling on mistakes.

According to Nina, deliberately incorporating empathy helps humanise your conversations, building greater trust and transparency for your team.

2. Values

Nina stresses that values help to establish shared clarity and buy-in to what is important. Well-developed values become the yardstick for team behaviours, including collaboration.

“A team that operates based on shared values brings out their strengths in autonomy and self-awareness. Strong values help each member know what’s expected of them, builds trust and a healthy team mindset.

“When your values include teamwork, communication, or achieving results, everyone has a reason to be good at collaboration”.

There are a number of ways you can incorporate collaboration into your team values.

  • Make collaboration a true team effort. Gather ideas and allow time for reflection. Engage with your team, so the values you land on align with them on a personal level.
  • Be specific, not merely aspirational. As Michel Feaster of Usermind suggests, “The problem with values like ‘respect’ and ‘courage’ is that everybody interprets them differently.” Avoid adding ambiguous values that could create friction, rather than uniting your team.
  • Allow your values to evolve as your team or company matures. You may decide to revisit your values annually or more frequently, based on changes in your team.

3. Team Orientation

According to Nina, Patrick Lencioni’s model on The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has been the basis of understanding high performing teams for almost two decades. She explains that team orientation is a critical layer. If a team member loses sight of their role as a team player, which is even more significant than their individual achievement, results will suffer.

“The mindset of your team should be oriented towards the team, even if this comes at the expense of their own ego, career development, or recognition”.

Nina shares some reminders for orienting your team toward the team, not themselves.

  • Create shared goals. High performing teams work towards goals that everyone has their eye on, not their own individual goals. Shared goals are a rare but powerful way to get a clear focus on ‘team’.
  • Talk about teamwork as a team sport. There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’. As cheesy as it sounds, this phrase reminds us that team conversations that use ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’ directly reflect a shared reality, not an individual one.
  • Raise visibility of shared context and issues. Knowledge is power. Too often leaders hold back key information that could shape and direct the work of the team. There is a rise in the demand for transparency by employees – in large part because they want to be involved in solving problems jointly. Create visibility of the problems, don’t hide them away.

Nina says the keys to a strong mindset of collaboration – empathy, valuing collaboration, and team orientation – help build resiliency for your team.

“An empathetic, team-oriented, values-driven mentality helps to avoid situations that could derail teamwork. Developing this mindset will set your team up for productive, collaborative work that drives company success,” says Nina.