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Managing dispersed, flexible teams

With the NSW government’s commitment to decentralising and making all roles flexible by 2019, employees are increasingly able to work in a variety of locations, often dispersed from their colleagues. This guide is for managers who find a scattered team has become the new normal, and need to adjust their managerial style and the team’s way of working together to adapt.  Here’s a quick review of what’s in the guide, to see if you need to read more.

  • A dispersed team has the majority of its members working in separate locations 2.5 days/week or more. This means they have less opportunities to talk or collaborate face-to-face, and you will need to adopt a different way of managing the team.

    See page 4 of the guide for more details

  • Dispersed teams work a little differently day-to-day, so you’ll need to adjust the way your team communicates, how you interact and the technology you will use to keep the work flowing. Up front, you will need to:

    • Diagnose your own skill as a flexible manager, and establish your teams’ capability
    • Put in place clear expectations on the work to be done, and how you will ensure client or service needs are maintained or improved
    • Discuss with the team how it will know if it is functioning effectively.

    See pages 5 and 6 of the guide for more details

  • Yes, you’ll need to be more intentional about your team’s communications, because there is less opportunity for corridor chats, and its easy for things to fall through cracks. Team meetings will need to change shape, and finding face-to-face time is important. Technology can also help.

    See pages 7-12 of the guide for more details

  • Yes - managing for clearly articulated outcomes is key. You will need to regularly discuss and agree things such as what work needs to be done and by when, why it needs to be done and what it needs to achieve, how it could be done, and who will need to be consulted or worked with. Poor performance can be tricky to fix, so set up routines to minimise the risk.

    See pages 13-14 of the guide for more details

  • It’s harder to ‘feel’ like a team when you don’t regularly see each other or work in the same place, and isolation and work intensification are commonly expressed concerns.

    See pages 15-16 of the guide for more details

Quick troubleshooting tips

Someone isn’t meeting their performance targets

Someone is working too much and is stressed

ICT fails

There is tension between team members

One team member seems particularly withdrawn

Identify any obstacles

Walk the talk (‘leaving loud’)

Dial in early to meetings to troubleshoot

Explore the issues with them individually

Check in at your catch up meetings if they’re OK

Negotiate their workload

Talk about health and stress

Train your team and have a Plan B

Co-develop solutions

Ensure they have a buddy, perhaps from a nearby agency

Set up regular check ins

Check in at your catch-up meetings

Advocate for better systems

Agree on a way of working and be clear in your expectations

Schedule time to visit them in person

See page 11 for more

See page 14 for more

See page 8 for more

See page 6-7 for more

See page 13 for more