Remote Workplace Accountability: A 5-Point Framework
As we all experience today that remote work environment has become a new normal, A certain generation of leaders still struggle to manage their teams. (Thanks to their leadership style J). To be honest, it boils down to their Ability, Means and Accountability as explained by Etsko Schuitema in his famous book Leadership: The Care and Growth Model.
The need for remote employee accountability is typically greater than in-office team accountability. The lack of face-to-face interactions, office drop-ins, and smoke corner gossips greatly reduces the extrinsic motivation factor that drives accountability at work for most employees.
This article dives straight into the subject of team accountability at work. We will try and explain why it matters for remote productivity and share a framework to improve team accountability in your remote teams and organizations.
This means that everyone including the top team, managers, team leads and employees take complete charge of their respective assignments, keep their promises, meet deadlines, ensure quality, and everyone owns their roles and responsibilities in the organization. This also means that everyone including the management team is held accountable for their actions, behaviors, and performance.
1. Transparency takes a toll
To implement a successful remote work strategy, it should be ingrained in your business culture. Using a patchwork plan or making it up as you go will end up in sheer failure. Developing a comprehensive plan starts with your hiring process: Target self-disciplined candidates with strong interpersonal and communication skills, time management, and collaboration skills. Related article: click here.
Establish clear expectations from the remote teams. Require online attendance and participation in any relevant meetings. Agree on a schedule so that if you call a team member at a particular time to discuss an issue, they will be available or will get back to you promptly. Working from home comes with flexibility baked in, but you don’t want anyone to be missing in action when they’re needed.
The key is transparency: Be abundantly clear about your expectations and any potential consequences, while also acknowledging that our current circumstances are far from normal. Show empathy and flexibility, as your team members may be struggling with unprecedented challenges i.e. bad internet, laptop breakdown etc. During these trying times, giving a little can go a long way.
2. Communicate clearly
Poor communication can quickly derail an otherwise successful work relationship. Without the nuances that come with face-to-face communication, intentions can be misread, and priorities misaligned. The more time passes without further communication, the worse these problems get: No one wants to waste valuable time by pursuing the wrong goal for days. If a team member is stuck or needs support, they should feel empowered to reach out to you and the team for help. Related article: click here.
Video conferencing is essential to enable face-to-face communication in remote work environment. This will help you and your team members pick up on the non-verbal cues that enhance every conversation — e.g. that critical questioning look that says: “I thought she was clear on our approach, but her face tells me otherwise.” Remember that remote work can be lonely — one study showed that 62% employees found it “socially isolating.” Conversing over chat can simulate office interactions and help employees feel more connected with the team. Related article: click here.
3. Access to Automation
Whether your team members are in the office or at home, everyone has tasks to do. Project management software can help structure these tasks. You can set the expected time to completion, outline any blockers, log progress, and even enable the entire team to easily see what others are working on.
Some of these applications enable you to see how time is spent at the individual, team, and departmental levels. This can help you spot trends and insights to ensure that your team is being as productive as possible.
4. Ownership is obligatory
The managers must lead by example. They should own their assignments along with the team members. As a remote project manager, you can help this by celebrating small wins within the team.
Successful tasks and projects should be communicated and celebrated with the key contributors acknowledged. This builds team spirit and an eagerness to do more, reinforcing the bond between your remote employees and the fact that you’re all in shared purpose together. Related article: click here.
5. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it
When assessing the success of remote work, let productivity be your guiding principle. Ask yourself as a leader:
· Is your team engaged even working remotely?
· Is your team meeting deadlines?
· Are team members producing at a high level?
· Do team members support and rely on each other?
When remote work is implemented effectively, teams are just as efficient and productive as they are in the office. Many leaders even report a boost in productivity thanks to fewer office distractions and elimination of commute time.
Precisely, without team accountability, a remote organization can’t succeed. Team accountability calls for employees, regardless of position and hierarchy within the organization, to take ownership of assignments and projects. It also calls for them to consider it their responsibility to complete project deliverables with the highest quality and the organization’s best interests in mind.
Organizations with strong team accountability teach their employees to do more than the bare minimum on every project and align their personal goals with the organization’s goals for the best possible results. Improved team accountability ensures that everyone, whether remote or in-office, can be counted on to complete their tasks and projects on time. It also means that teammates trust each other to do what is right and speak up when they notice that things aren’t in order.
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Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan. At Evolve HR, him and his team thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.