Ethical Considerations for Leading Dispersed Teams

It is no secret that technical expertise is a vital asset for any engineering team. However, a successful team leader must possess more than just technical proficiency. In this essay, we will explore how to effectively manage a distributed engineering team during a crisis, with particular attention to the importance of taking into account the human aspects of the group when the team is placed in an all-remote mode due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential that a leader fosters an environment of trust and responsibility in order to ensure the team’s success.

  1. It is essential to ensure that everyone feels secure during this challenging time. There is a considerable amount of pressure on the staff right now with regards to their health, careers, and families. If people do not feel secure, they cannot concentrate on their work. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate the team’s efforts and resilience during these turbulent times.
  2. Greet the person warmly as you open the door and make them feel welcome. With the increased prevalence of video conferencing, it is now common to see interruptions from children in meetings and this is usually accepted. However, it is even more important to take the time to inquire about how the individual is doing, and to recognise the fact that it is often difficult to separate work and family life.
  3. Appreciating employees’ efforts is a great motivator. According to a survey, 82% of employed Americans would increase their productivity if they felt their efforts were appreciated. The power and importance of recognition become even greater when employees are working independently. Consistent praise can help boost morale and motivate employees to continue to give their best performance.
  4. It is important to set measurable outcomes instead of focusing solely on tasks that can be completed within a certain timeframe. Employment should not be used as a way to simply occupy one’s time, but rather as an opportunity to accomplish something of value. Clear, quantifiable objectives should be set and regular online meetings and reviews should be conducted to ensure that these objectives are being met. During video conversations, everyone should stand up and introduce themselves, especially if there are any potential distractions, such as children or pets, in the room. This may not only help to create a sense of camaraderie between team members, but also allow them to express their feelings for one another in the moment.
  5. It is reasonable to consider the potential reasons for reduced performance out of the workplace. This unusual situation, coupled with the various strains employees are facing, may be contributing factors. It is important to openly discuss what is preventing progress and how these issues can be addressed. For instance, the fact that some people do not have reliable Internet access at home is a substantial obstacle to productivity. To address this, it may be beneficial to upgrade connections or purchase data packages.
  6. It is essential to collect and examine performance metrics in order to identify any issues that may be present. Rather than focusing on the perception of one’s self, it is more important to address the quality of the output by discussing solutions to improve it.
  7. It is essential to maintain consistent communication. Lack of dialogue often leads to misunderstandings. To ensure that everyone is on the same page, consider utilising group chat applications, such as Slack, for inquiries and assistance. Additionally, it is recommended to hold meetings at least one or two times a day to discuss progress and any potential areas of improvement.

In light of the current circumstances, all-remote teams must strive to be especially deliberate and consistent in their implementation of best practices for communication, recognition, goal setting, and accountability. Such practices and the underlying concepts are not unique to remote work, but the lack of physical proximity requires teams to find new ways to practice them. With the appropriate guidance and dedication to these principles, remote teams can remain productive and successful.

For more information and guidance about building and managing remote engineering teams, refer to The Top 3 Ways to Manage a Remote Engineering Team.

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