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Distributed Teams - Team Timings

Usually when we work in the office there is usually a check-in time and a check-out time and break out meeting times, so the whole team is together at the same time and working together and interacting and sharing and contributing. When working at home or at a remote location, we do not take timings seriously. What happens is that each one in the team starts to work at their own timing taking mostly family into account and chores to do and just being lethargic in the morning. We get into the mode of saying if I eventually put in 8 hours that would be enough. The truth is this destroys the rhythm of the team. One might be a morning person, another a night person, another likes to work in bursts and so on. This makes people waiting on each other endless and delays tasks getting done leading to frustration and doubts if the person is actually working. Set a timing for the team, connect over a group conversation where everyone checks in and then work through the day being connected
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Distributed Teams - Reporting Status

When working in distributed teams one must remember that each one cannot see the other, so there is always that lingering thought that people are not working. When in the office one sees the person at the desk and hence assumes that the person is working. Secondly when working together, you always overhear conversations so you get a sense of what is happening. Hence it is very important for everyone to share the status of what they are working on along with any dependencies and challenges they are facing with everyone else. Any changes to the task timelines also need to be communicated so that everyone is on the same page. Over time you will notice members of the team getting comfortable and candid in their status as long as an open communication without prejudice is maintained. It is also very important to respond as soon as it is done to inform everyone else that it is done. Do not wait until the end of the day to inform other members of the team. This way it becomes clear to a

Distributed Teams - Vision and Tasks

In these challenging times, almost a third of the world is not working together in an office. This is not new, the tools and methods have been developed almost from the time the internet started becoming mainstream. With outsourcing the remote working concept had really developed into a way of life for many especially in the information technology industry. I would like to look at different aspects of remote working that have helped me through my career of working with remote teams for over 20 years. Vision is very important. The team should have a vision of what they need to achieve. Vision could be to develop a new process, a new product, achieve 99% up-time, response rates, etc. The team should have a goal to work towards, a north star. This helps the team to stay focused and on track even when not together. Once the team has a vision, it is very important to break this vision down into tasks. Tasks should have a clear definition (set of steps), a defined outcome, an estimate

Composing a Masterpiece

In an orchestra there are many individual great and very accomplished players of various instruments. Yet when they all play to the same composition together they bring out something special that they could never bring out when they play individually. And if they all play their own tune it never sounds great. Sounds more like noise. Its the same with any team or a startup, there are many accomplished members of the staff but unless they all play to the same composition they will not produce the music of success. And if they all play their own music it never sounds good and it feels like the team is pulling in different directions. That's where a composer plays a very crucial role, to write the music the way they envision it and then get everyone on the team to play to that composition. This needs to be fine tuned everyday so that the orchestra plays in tune and is able to adjust to the everyday changes that are bound to occur. Who is the composer in your team? Who writes

Monkey on your back

Ever feel like you are being weighed down by a ton of monkeys on your back. Well if you do, then you allowed those monkeys to be put on your back. Lets step back a bit and understand what is a monkey? A monkey is a task you gave a team member to work on and you expect them to take care in doing it to completion, but instead of completing it they bring it back undone to ask you expecting an input or a decision from you to move ahead. The moment you take it upon yourself to give them an answer you have successfully taken over charge of that monkey and now it is stuck with you until you give an answer. Now think about  it, if you start accumulating monkeys like this what would happen. You would have to figure out how to make time to handle these monkeys as they get brought back to you to firmly take them and put them back on your team members back. Remember that if you do not get rid of these monkeys they end up one on top of the other and the longer you keep them the more of a st

Being Relevant

The IT industry is a very fast changing environment and there are new languages being invented, new technologies being uncovered and new methodologies being proposed. At the same time there are better equipped smarter and more enthusiastic youngsters that are passing out of university all excited to be part of the world building the next exciting thing to hit the technology market. Given this situation its quite a challenge for someone who has already been working in the industry for sometime to continue to stay relevant and know and understand all the time what is happening and at the same time being acquainted with the technology and the tools that the people are using and the customers are demanding. But it is important that one does stay acquainted and relevant to the changing times. If you don't then there is every chance that one can get rolled over by either the technology or by the super smart young kids coming out of university. Learning never ceases and if you stop

Task Execution Vs Task Leadership

Ever been in this situation, you give a task to a member of your team and every few minutes the person would come back to you and ask you for feedback or queries and then you feel you are going nowhere with the task (as many a time you do not know the answers and would have to research) and the person feels that they have put in a lot of effort.  Alternatively you have the situation where you give a task to the member of your team, they understand what is the end goal of the task, they take all the inputs from you that you have to offer, go back to their desk and do all the research needed to execute, come back with a plan, resources needed and an activity list to execute the task and on approval sets about silently executing the task and only providing you periodic updates on the progress.  Which of these two team members would you prefer to work with? The answer is quite obvious and this is task execution vs task leadership. Its easy to find people who can execute tasks, but t