With the constant evolution and arrival of new technologies to our lives, we have felt the need to find new ways to learn, meet people, communicate, monitor our health, sell and buy, among others. In the same way companies had to adapt to electricity over one hundred years ago to be more efficient and not fall behind the competition, now companies and their leaders must find a new way to make the most out of digital transformation in order to manage their teams through technology, with the organisation’s goals in mind, and develop digital leaders who can help inspire employees to achieve results.
When we arrived in Mexico four years ago, after working hand in hand with the team at PDA International HQ in Argentina for almost three years, we found ourselves in a situation which at that time required us to adapt and do remote work efficiently and quickly. In order to achieve this, we had the help of our biggest ally: technology. However, it’s important we say that digital transformation is not just about technology itself, but it’s about how we use it to develop strategies, structures, interpersonal skills and culture, and also to understand our own clients and employees. During this time, we learned a few lessons about how to build trust in remote teams, which we can now apply to other projects – allowing us to continue learning from each cycle – where digital leadership takes on a main role.
In our team, it’s always been important to communicate with accuracy, honesty and transparency. This allows us to clearly see our goals and how we feel at a personal level. The human factor has always been considered, since in sharing or being interested in one another, we instil trust, a key value for a remote team. It’s important that, despite calls being oriented to the business, at least ten minutes of the team meetings or feedback sessions are destined to connect with one another. In my personal experience, I have calls with my boss all the time –even after work hours– in which we talk about ourselves, our lives and our daily routines, to then focus on the business. This strengthens our relationship, and it’s something that I’ve been trying to replicate with my team recently.
As the project evolves, we find that we need to hire new people; the trust we have in them is key, so it’s important to learn to value the other person’s experience. The best thing that you can do is manage and measure each employee and team based on results. For example, instead of focusing on the number of calls and emails they send every day, you can have a look at their daily goals and let each employee use their own strategy to achieve them. If you hire a new person and your intention is to monitor each of their moves, where is the trust we were just talking about?
Daily goals can be negotiated with each person during feedback sessions. By managing according to results and making each team member set their own goals, you encourage motivation and, at the same time, they will own those goals and understand their accountability in achieving them. In addition to this, it’s important that mistakes aren’t demonised, and we encourage a growth mindset, because mistakes will be made when setting goals and the actions to achieve them, as we will necessarily experiment with different ways to do it. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes. Of course, this doesn’t mean there won’t be unexpected mistakes.
Throughout time, I’ve learned that building and maintaining a trust culture requires effort, consistency in your actions and patience with yourself and others. There still isn’t general consent on the definition of digital leadership, but in order to become a digital leader, besides building trust, you need to constantly learn and unlearn, self-manage, bring yourself up to speed on new technologies to use them in your context, solve problems strategically and measure different indicators in order to make decisions based on facts.