How to Build Rapport with a Remote Team as a Project Manager

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Around the world, more and more teams are starting to work remotely. While that has many benefits for both the team members and the companies they work for, remote working can make it more challenging for project managers to build a good rapport with their team.

Having a good relationship with team members is of course crucial in creating a happy and productive team.

If you’re struggling with building rapport as a project manager, check out the following tips.

Regularly Communicate via Video Calls

You can’t build rapport with a remote team if you don’t communicate with each team member. In fact, when you don’t actively take the time to communicate with your team, miscommunication about project details is more likely to occur.

That can cause milestones to be delayed and make building rapport even more challenging. Miscommunication often happens with remote teams when you share messages with each other rather than speaking face-to-face.

Communicating via methods like email means there are no visual clues for you and your team members to pick up on. Therefore, building rapport online is more difficult than in the physical world. So, always use video calls to communicate with your remote team members.

You can use other communication methods like email and telephone too, but when it comes to building a relationship with your team, being able to see one another makes all the difference and ensures miscommunication happens less often.

For instance, when you chat to people face-to-face via video calls, you can see what someone’s initial facial expression is to an idea you put forward and see how passionate someone is about a task.

Give Gifts and Rewards to Your Remote Team Members

In an office setting, project managers commonly use incentives and gifts to reward hard-working team members.

For instance, you could give gift cards to employees when they reach agreed targets or you could take the whole team out to dinner when a high-profile project has been completed successfully.

Such things are great for building rapport with team members, so don’t forget to give gifts and incentives to your remote team. You might not be able to take everyone out to dinner, but you can still send them things like gift cards or hampers to reward a job well done.

Ultimately, giving gifts and rewards shows your team members that you care and are appreciative. In turn, that enables you to build better relationships and rapport with your remote team.

Use Emojis and Gifs in Written Communications

While you should spend time chatting to team members in-person via video chat to build rapport, you will still often be communicating with your remote team via written messages. Because written messages like emails can lead to more misunderstanding than face-to-face conversations, it is helpful to use GIFs and emojis to clarify points.

Using GIFs and emojis has another benefit: they can make people smile. So, when appropriate, use things like GIFs to build rapport through humor. You might think emojis are just things like silly smiley faces, but many studies have shown that emojis help people to express themselves more clearly and they can lead to more personal connections.

Hang Out Online as You Would in the Office

In an office setting, team members are sure to hang out during breaks. Often, the most honest communication happens when employees are standing around the water cooler discussing the morning they have just had, for example.

Office hangouts allow employees and project managers to communicate in a more informal way and get to know each other well. When good rapport is built in that way, it can improve project productivity no end.

So, when you’re dealing with remote team members, create a digital water cooler: an online space where you and your team can hang out more informally.

You could further build relationships by asking people to choose a daily song to play. Music really helps to bring people together. By chatting about non-work topics, you can build better rapport and foster a more coherent and productive team.

Be Friendly and Considerate

It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning anyway: when you communicate with a remote team member, remember to be friendly and considerate. Online communication can make people forget simple good manners, so don’t let that happen to you.

When you first get in touch with a remote team member, start the conversation on a friendly note, such as asking how the person’s weekend was. You can then move on to talk about work issues.

Pleasant communication works wonders for good rapport and effective communication. So, remember to treat the person on your screen like a human being.

Building good rapport really can be as simple as being friendly and considerate, both in online and offline settings.

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