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Overcoming the challenges of coaching a remote team

Being a consultant often means seeing more of your assignment colleagues, than of your colleagues at your consultancy company. As team coach it’s my task to, despite this, create a team spirit with my colleagues at informiQ in Linköping and Stockholm. Keep reading, and I will tell you how I work with overcoming the challenges of coaching a remote team. 


Written by: Mari-Ann Gripmark


The main challenge: 

We do not work together, and we do not even live in the same city. We meet in person only a couple of times per year. 


Our goals:

  • Get to know each other.

  • Get to know ourselves.

  • Create an open climate where everyone feels comfortable and safe.


Three people, each holding a speach bubble in front of their face.
Image by: Freepik

Why are we doing this?

As a consultant, I am encouraged to look out for new consultancy assignments, both for myself and for my colleagues. This is a much easier task if I know not only my colleagues' competencies, but also their personalities, preferences, and goals.

As a consultant, I am responsible for my own competence development. Discussing with others helps me get new ideas and find new ways.


The solution we have tried so far:

Bi-weekly team meetings (remote): At each team meeting we make time for some chit-chat, but there is also a main purpose. Here are some examples of activities so far: Each team member presents his/her consultancy assignment, with focus on what he/she enjoys most and least.

  • Team building games to get to know each other better.

  • Exercises to find your personal motivators and understand what makes you enjoy your daily work. (based on https://management30.com/practice/moving-motivators/)

  • Talk about what would be our dream consultancy assignments.

A Slack channel just for us: Anyone in the team can write about anything. Team coach posts at least once a week: Interesting links, questions, information or (most often) just a GIF or a thought.


Challenge: How to prioritize the team meetings? 

From a team building perspective, it would be better to see each other more often than every other week. You have to make a trade-off though, between team building and working on your consultancy assignment. This trade-off may look different for different organizations.


Challenge: How to use the Slack channel?

The Slack channel is a great place for sharing thoughts, problems, and tips as well as weekend plans. Though, if chatting in a Slack channel does not come naturally to the team members, there is no use trying to force this. In that case, focus on relevant information. Discuss how you want to use this channel within the team!


Three people holding pieces of a puzzle.
Image by: Freepik

Summary: To feel comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas, we first have to feel that we are a team and that we trust each other.


Our advice to you: Creating a safe and comfortable space for the team should be your top priority.

Do not underestimate the power of simple team building games that make us laugh together. Involve all team members in planning, discussions etc, but do not try to force anyone. 


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