Deconstructing Value Is Just Like Demolition!

Trust is an important component for building effective teams, unfortunately, you can’t buy a bag of trust and like plant fertilizer, sprinkle it on a team. In a special panel discussion aired on SPaMCAST 591, Jeff Dalton reminded us that trust is built; it does not magically appear because we want it to. Many of the Software Process and Measurement Cast and Blog listeners have been thrust into situations where they are suddenly remote and learning to build trust as part of newly remote teams. Sandeep Koorse made an interesting observation in the same podcast that many of us had been lulled in a false sense of trust and intimacy because we have been face-to-face for so long. The implication is that teams don’t invest the time needed to build trust that can withstand shocks like we are now facing. A few simple (no consultants needed) ideas to begin building trust on your suddenly remote team include:

  1. Turn on your camera (and stop doing email and text chats during meetings). Whether you all have your cameras on constantly during your daily meetings or only when you are sharing a Jira board (or something else) is less important than making sure that every team member can make eye at some point in the meeting. Leaders should help team members that have issues with having a camera on.
  2. Learn to pronounce all of your fellow team members’ names. No explanation is needed.  An advanced version of this important idea is to learn everyone’s real name rather than their nickname.   
  3. Learn to recognize every team member’s voice. I once worked with a distributed team (½ in the US and ½ in Columbia) each team member had a set of popsicle sticks with each team member’s picture on a stick. When someone talked everyone would hold up the picture of the person talking (this was an audio-only situation) so they could learn to associate a voice with a face. Two side benefits of the practice included laughter when people got it wrong and it was very difficult to fake attention and do email in meetings.
  4. Amy McDonough and Jeff Dalton in the soon to be infamous SPaMCAST 591 suggested holding virtual events. Amy had already run a virtual lunch (something I participated in when I worked at Hyland Software) and Jeff with his team had shared a martini virtually the evening before. The bottom line is to find ways to connect that are not strictly task-related.  

Even though the degree of difficulty for leaders and facilitators has increased there are many things you can do to build trust. Having a basis of trust is a necessary first step for building an effective team. Near the end of SPaMCAST 591, Christopher Hurney pointed out that many of us have been selling the idea that remote working can be very effective. To quote Mr. Hurney, “its time to put up or shut up.” Start building trust now and if none of the simple ideas work completely, ask for help. Sometimes facilitation is needed to fix long-running problems that we have ignored for far too long and now are exacerbated by the stress of sudden change.

Call to action — what are some of your go-to ideas for building trust in a distributed team? 

SPaMCAST 591 – Advice For Remote Teams, A Discussion with Dalton, McDonough, Koorse, Hurney, and Cagley
Listen Now: http://bit.ly/2WsDtk9
Web and Show Notes:  http://bit.ly/36eS3hm