For talented team members, learning and development is an important aspect of work. In-person mentoring, team trainings, special projects, presentation practice and travel are all professional development opportunities that prepare team members for new potential and career growth. Serving as a mentor and developing team members individually is how leaders ensure the team grows stronger.
Great leaders know how to provide development opportunities for their team members, even during periods between promotions. However, a work-from-home team setup poses changes and challenges for leaders with established approaches to team development.
Working remotely presents very few opportunities for in-person mentoring, traditional office presentations, interactive group trainings and travel. How can leaders adjust to the new norm and continue to develop team members?
Here are five ways to continue to develop your team members (and yourself) while working remotely.
1. Send your team a new article every day. When you read, you learn. Finding and sharing relevant articles with your team members via email is a great way to offer insights, introduce new information and spark discussion during remote team meetings. Share an article with your team each day (or each week) that is related to the work you do, projects you’re working on or a special area of team interest. Some articles can be educational and some can be fun! Try to not share articles about the general national or global news. Keep it relevant, interesting and positive.
2. Make sure your team members have enough work to do, and track individual and team progress together. Leaders that manage multi-person teams are used to planning and delegating. However, working remotely with little to no in-person interaction makes it difficult to know who is really working on what tasks and projects at any given time. A shared team vision map, which you can make online and share with this tool, is a great way to align around the team’s current vision, distribute and delegate work, and track progress. Use weekly one-on-one meetings to ask team members if they have too much, too little or just the right amount of work.
3. Give your team members individual feedback on something that you normally might overlook or not have time to discuss. A big change often prompts subsequent changes in approach and perspective. To elevate the skill set of the individuals on your team, give each person a piece of feedback that will refine and enhance his or her capabilities. Is there something you normally overlook like slide formatting, communication style or level of detail? Try giving each team member one piece of useful feedback each week. Make sure to frame it as an opportunity and provide a positive acknowledgement as well!
4. Think and talk about the career development of your team members individually and focus on building a specific skill for the next level. Especially when working at home, team members have a lot of time to think about the big picture. Again, a big change often prompts a shift of perspective. For each of your team members, consider where they are right now in their careers and what the next step could be. Discuss this with them in a one-on-one meeting. Then, suggest and agree on a skill you can help them build remotely over the next one to three weeks to progress and move toward the next level. They can learn a new skill from you, from an online course or though working on a special project.
5. Prompt your team members with a strategic question, and have them formulate an answer or solution. Another functional and fun team activity is to come up with a strategic question related to your industry or organization and ask for everyone’s input. You can pose a question currently on your mind or get inspiration from an all-company challenge or industry article. This is an exciting activity because it sparks expansive thinking, strategic thinking and team discussion. Make time at a team meeting to hear each person’s ideas and approach. Talk about what you would all suggest as a team. I like to think of this activity as team strength training.
L&D opportunities are essential fuel for driven team members. People with a growth mindset, who can adapt and continue to progress despite change and adversity, are the most successful.