• Susan Fisher

out of site out of mind ? mixed teams

Left out, shunned and ganged up on ? Nobody wants to feel like that.

Sure there are always conflicts at work. Some people call it creative tension. These challenges always need to be managed but that is even harder when part of the team is remote and part in the office.

The Team Leader at an Israeli scale up client explained it like this:

"I got an email yesterday from a development engineer team member in the Ukraine telling me that the QA team in Israel was “not productive” .

When I called him the same day, he sounded very bothered but would not give too much detail of why he was unhappy.

It's worrying because he is a key member of the development team and could easily find a job somewhere else. I know that the guys in Israel are feeling some friction as they just walk into my office and tell me about it.

It is pretty frustrating. "

The thing is that mixed teams are likely to have a harder time resolving workplace challenges. The Harvard Business Review reported on a survey in 2017 in which 47% of remote workers admitted to letting issues drag on for weeks or more.

That figure is for teams which were intentionally set up to be partially virtual. During the pandemic teams have become mixed overnight and while WFH is welcomed by lots of people my experience is that people often feel that "out of site is out of mind."

One of the best ways to deal with this if for the team to have discussed and agreed a process for solving issues before those issues arise. Just the fact that people know this exists helps in preventing them.

Here is a simple process that I suggest

  • The Team Leader arranges a time to discuss the issue with the people involved separately.

  • TheTeam Leader reviews what he had heard and speaks to anyone else he feels can shed light on the issue.

  • The Team Leader holds a meeting with the people in conflict to let them voice their concerns. He relates this to the overall goals, priorities and values of the team.

  • Once agreement is reached the team lead follows up in writing. This is then available for everyone to reference in the future.

Instead of bottling up problems or escalating conflicts, this process helps the mixed team identify and deal with them wherever they are working. So no one feels left out.