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The world has changed - quickly - and in many cases without time to prepare. During chaotic times like these, you need to take the space to more formally check in with your team. While standups help keep teams aligned on productivity and expectations, a retrospective can help you facilitate genuine conversations about the shift people are navigating personally, professionally and even financially and the resulting mental burden they may be trying to manage.
We want to help. One way we can is by giving you the tools you and your team need to feel open and safe exploring these new challenges. We’ve created a Team Radar template with the five topics we find are coming up the most among teams that are suddenly distributed and room for you to add your own themes to help your team discuss their unique obstacles or achievements through this transition.
Team Radars can give teams an instant pulse on how satisfied they are in a variety of categories in a transparent and quick way. They identify areas where the team agrees or disagrees about a topic and can be used alone or in combination with a column-based retrospective.
The radar can include up to seven categories for discussion. Each participant then anonymously votes on their overall satisfaction with that topic. Once the entire team has voted on each category, you can move onto the Analyze phase where you are able to see multiple views of the data including average score, outliers, standard deviation, and more to help guide the team’s discussion of each area.
With this sudden and chaotic transition to remote work, it is important to keep in mind that the people on your team have entire lives outside your professional relationship. With the world providing so much additional stress, it’s nice to take a moment to get a sense of how everyone is handling this adjustment.
We’ve created this new, completely customizable Team Radar template to help you and your team communicate about personal struggles they might be facing. The template is pre-populated with five topics for conversation that greatly impact daily productivity. Let's take a look at each category below.
After these past few weeks, we’ve all discovered that no matter how hard we try, working from home does not come without its distractions.
In your next team radar, try taking a moment to get a pulse on focus time and discuss any blockers your team might be facing. Although these obstacles often manifest in the form of bottlenecks or time restrictions, these days they might more closely resemble a toddler running around or an overworked spouse.
As we all know, distractions affect productivity - but they can also quickly take a toll on mental health. It is important that your team feels supported during these difficult times, so try adding this topic into your radar once in a while to see how your team is dealing with this transition.
One major change associated with transitioning to distributed work is in tooling. The tools your team chooses to use will often determine their overall success or failure.
Once the team responds to the radar, discuss tools for video conferencing, chat communication, project management, organization, retrospectives, etc. To help decide which tools are right for your team, check out our Agile Toolkit, a comprehensive guide to the agile community’s most popular tools.
Working at home sounds like a dream come true - and to some, it might be! But it’s certainly not without its challenges.
If you don’t have a dedicated workspace, you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed with distractions throughout the day. Use the Suddenly Distributed Team Radar to get a sense of your team’s at home setup and consider offering these suggestions if they're having trouble adjusting.
🖥Create a dedicated work area away from roommates, significant others, and children. This way you’ll have a clearly defined area for working that is separate from your dedicated time for relaxing.
❌Use a signal to show others in your home that you are working and not to be distrubed. This can be something as simple as a paper sign taped to a door or placing an easily spottable object on your desk. If they wouldn’t bother you in the office about it, they shouldn’t bother you while you’re working from home either.
It often goes unnoticed how much information is passed during errant conversations in the office. Need additional explanation on a project, no problem - just pop over and chat about it.
Without an office, this easy banter isn’t quite so effortless. Things might become lost in translation a little more frequently - this is normal. What isn’t normal is to allow miscommunications to continue to happen for long periods of time.
When you assess task clarity, ask your team if anyone feels comfortable sharing their difficulties. Where are things being lost along the way? How can you bridge that gap?
Open communication, even to the point of over-communication, goes a long way in remote work. Is your team keeping in constant communication or checking in only in dedicated meetings? Consider referring back to your tooling conversation, and decide, as a team, if your chat tool is as effective as it needs to be.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: THIS TRANSITION IS HARD. If you or your team are still adjusting to remote work, that’s okay.
It’s okay if you’re not at your peak productivity right now or your communication with your team has slipped a bit. Chances are, you’re not the only person on your team who feels this way. We’re all adjusting together, but it’s nice to feel seen by those around you.
If you find that your team is struggling with collaboration and productivity, some helpful suggestions would include:
💬Learn to over communicate with your team. Yes, this will seem weird at first, but without an office setting that promotes quick collaboration, you won’t realize what is slipping through the cracks until it’s too late - trust us.
⏰Set working hours and stick to them! There’s nothing worse than trying to get a project done during someone else’s dinner time. Know your core team working hours (what time everyone is online together) and try to be as productive as possible during that period.
While these five pre-populated categories are used with the Suddenly Distributed Team Radar Template, all Retrium Team Radar’s are completely customizable! You can add, subtract, and modify topics for discussion as you see fit for your team.
A few other common categories include:
If you didn’t sign up for a distributed team, chances are you are feeling incredibly overwhelmed right now. We get it.
As a fully distributed team, we understand that there is certainly an adjustment period where people can potentially feel lonely or isolated without that everyday interaction with coworkers. This is especially true for the extroverts on your team.
Here at Retrium, we like to promote physical distancing as opposed to social distancing. Just because you and your team are working separately, that doesn’t mean you can’t hang out! Set aside time each week for virtual meet-ups.
🍵Sip your morning Espresso a lá Coffee Mate with a coworker and discuss your weekend.
🍱Enjoy your lunch with a coworker by ordering your favorite takeout.
🎲Take a brain break and play a game. The current Retrium team favorite game is Werewolf - the game of lying and deceit!
🍹Organize a virtual team happy hour to celebrate a birthday or achievement.
If you can’t do any of these things, we strongly encourage at least a few minutes at the beginning of each meeting for “witty banter.” In other words, allow some time for everyone to catch up and experience some normalcy in their day.
Transitioning from a co-located to distributed team is hard on everyone, including managers. Managing a team in person where you can easily look over your shoulder and assess productivity is very different from monitoring the effectiveness of an employee who works from home.
With more than five years managing a remote team, Retrium Co-Founder and CEO, David Horowitz, gave this advice in his LinkedIn #WFHTip.
By adding a discussion category for management style, you can determine whether your team is feeling motivated or micromanaged and adjust management style accordingly.
We’re all feeling a little out of sorts lately. By taking a moment to gauge your team's personal well being, not only will you surely increase productivity, but you’ll also build trust and show your team that you care about them as humans just as much as you care about them as employees.