Kerry Anderson - Apr 30, 2020

The Secret to Managing a Remote Team

At Emergenetics International, I have the privilege of leading the three teams that are responsible for marketing, sales and relationship management. Together, we make up the Client Experience Cohort. Formed nearly two years ago, we have all worked very hard to become a highly effective and extremely connected group.

Our staff has long enjoyed the flexibility to work from home one day a week and in some instances, including our common Denver snowstorms, with more frequency. We were on trend with many other companies offering remote working as a benefit to employees to reduce stress, provide for work-life integration and retain talented team members.

And never in a million years, when expanding our employee benefits, did we anticipate that we’d be a nearly 100% remote workforce in early 2020. In mid-March, our leadership team made the easy choice to allow for nearly all staff, aside from a few who were deemed as essential, to work from home to do our part to slow the spread of coronavirus. Some staff were already working from home that day, others on business trips, so we’ve all made do with the resources we have in our home offices, kitchens and spare bedrooms.

Years ago, while working at another company, I worked from home and managed a remote team. It was one of the most challenging experiences of my career. Throughout my years of developing as a manager, there was never training on how to do so from a distance. When that company decided to reduce office space and send staff home, it was a whole new ballgame. It worked out okay, and it never felt quite right. As a collective, we struggled to find our groove.

When I joined Emergenetics International in late 2016, I was excited to build a team from the ground up. I was grateful that it would be done locally, as years of weekly work travel had worn me down. And with my preference for Social Thinking, I get energy from connecting and collaborating with others, so I knew working in the office would feed my soul. Fast forward to nearly three and a half years later, and I am guiding a team of eight who are energised by the work we do.

Not only do we have a passion for our work in common, we also all share that preference for Social Thinking in Emergenetics®. Being together at work, connecting after hours, sharing stories and being there for one another during challenging times is our thing. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it left some of us a little shell shocked and missing our time together. And I had once again become a leader of a remote team.

The Science of Success

This time around I have a leg up thanks to the brilliant Drs. Geil Browning and Wendell Williams who created the Emergenetics Profile. For those not familiar, the Emergenetics Profile measures seven Attributes, which are universally shared by all human beings, to provide insight into every individual’s inherent strengths. There are three Behaviours measured a.k.a. how you are likely to show up, and four Thinking Attributes a.k.a. how you are likely to approach your work and life.

It’s incredible to wholly understand yourself – I am a Structural, Social Thinker and in the first-third of both Expressiveness and Assertiveness and the second-third of Flexibility – and the real power is when you know the Emergenetics Profile of those around you. Thankfully we require all staff to complete our questionnaire and share their results, which means that I have these insights about each of the eight exceptional individuals who are steering our client experiences.

Every day, I make an effort to honour the Platinum Rule, and to lead each person in a way that resonates with them. As their leader, I can tailor their employee experience to their Emergenetics preferences.  When remote work became the new norm, it was a seamless transition to treat them as they want to be treated no matter our location. There are many ways in which I am supporting my team during these unfamiliar times using our seven Attributes.

Putting Emergenetics into Action

Our core business is bringing people together to learn about themselves and one another. The pandemic provided all of us the opportunity to move at a third-third Assertive pace to ensure we could continue the great work our company does via digital delivery. To support those who prefer to move at a steadier pace, I’ve encouraged them to find those moments when they can take a breath, make time for lunch away from their laptop or consider shortening their workday.

As we navigate working from home, I’ve offered Flexibility of schedules to support teaching their little ones, taking care of their family members and making that all-important run to the grocery store. I’ve also tried to stick to the decisions we are making during this time to provide consistency and stability.

When it comes to our one-on-one meetings, I consider the person’s preference in Expressiveness. For those in the first-third, we might handle regular check-ins via email and phone calls. For those in the third-third, we are on Zoom sharing screens and chatting it up.

For the members of the team with a Conceptual preference, I’ve encouraged them to brainstorm new ways that they can help our team or other cohorts across the company. For those with a preference for Analytical Thinking, I’ve provided important data related to our recent launch of virtual workshops and programs. And to support the Structural Thinkers, I provide an agenda prior to any work-oriented meetings that I’ve scheduled.

And remember that commonality of Social Thinking? I quickly recognised that we were a group that would need to meet up on a regular basis, so we often have virtual team breakfasts, lunches and happy hours to be sure we can still take care of one another – even from afar. We also ‘check in’ three mornings a week via email to share updates and answer a fun question to stay connected.

It hasn’t all been easy, and I’ve even shed a few tears when thinking about the team and wishing we could be in the same place. I take comfort in knowing that we will be one day – in what I hope is the not too distant future. I also know that I have become a much better leader of a remote team, because I have the advantage of Emergenetics.

Download this template to help you manage a distributed team from a holistic approach (Whole Emergenetics approach).

If you are at home and feeling disconnected from your co-workers, I invite you to consider Emergenetics. We support organisations and teams of all sizes. And for those of you who cannot understand why that family member is driving you crazy in quarantine, we can help you too. Connect with us

This article was originally published in Emergenetics International Blog The Secret to Managing a Remote Team " .

Written by Kerry Anderson