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Virtual Team Building: The Ultimate Manager Guide

Everything you need to know about building trust for remote/hybrid teams.

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Chapter 5

Build a Team: Trust-Based Hiring and Onboarding

We can’t talk about team building without, of course, mentioning how you build a team. By baking a foundation of trust into your hiring and onboarding processes, you can grow your team and help them succeed long-term.

How to build trust while hiring

Every relationship starts with a first impression. For managers and teammates, this impression starts with an interview. Here are a few tips for setting a precedent of trust while hiring:

1. Be authentic and personable

The goal of an interview is to get to know someone, and having a rigid conversation can seriously hurt your chances. For a remote interview, managers have to deliberately add a human element. Keep your camera on for Zoom interviews and don’t make a big deal out of dog barks or interrupting kids. Open up with personal stories and how you relate to your team’s mission. And most of all, listen and show genuine interest. Beyond a candidate's skill set, their personality and passions will be the biggest asset to your team’s culture.

2. Be transparent about the interview process and job

The biggest relief for candidates is knowing what to expect when presenting themselves. Managers should be as direct and clear about the job’s expectations and the rest of the interview process as possible. This includes sharing time estimates and potential pros and cons of the position. Your transparency while hiring will set a precedent for your transparency in a remote environment. This is crucial for trust.

3. Follow-up and provide frequent updates

Part of building trust is establishing reliability. As anyone can tell you, there’s no greater dread than checking an empty inbox long after a promising interview. Leaving your candidates on read, even if they’re eventually hired, sets a bad tone for your communication style. If you’re unable to come to a decision, share a realistic timeline of when they should hear back. Stick with it, or inform them that you’ll need additional time. If it’s bad news, provide thoughtful feedback where appropriate so the candidate knows how to improve.

How do encourage team bonding during onboarding

Team building doesn’t stop once you bring in the perfect hire. If anything, the work has only begun.

Onboarding sets the foundation for team relationships, but the process is time-consuming and difficult while remote. In a report by Gallup, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job at onboarding new hires. Among the managers we interviewed in the pandemic, nearly 40% had yet to meet their team face-to-face. Without body language and the social cues you’d get in an office environment, new teammates have to take initiative to get to know their coworkers. When managers fail to help, they can easily fall into isolation and disengagement.

There are a few ways to bake team building into your onboarding:

1. Focus on working styles

Miscommunication is far too common for remote teams. In an office, teammates can pick up personality quirks. While remote, not so much. To ensure everyone can get to know each other, create work-with-me guides with details on personal facts and work style preferences.

2. Set up a buddy system

It’s difficult for new teammates to know who to ask for help in a remote setting. That’s why the Human Capital Institute reports 47% of organizations assign new hires an ambassador or buddy during the onboarding process. By having a designated point person, new hires can start to build a relationship with a key teammate and branch out from there.

3. Create scheduled and spontaneous bonding

Managers will often set up get-to-know-you events in the first week of onboarding. This habit falls apart, however. A few days of fun are hardly enough to build up a strong working relationship. Create a regular cadence of bonding sessions so teammates have something to look forward to. You can also prioritize spontaneous conversations over Slack and little moments of vulnerability.

Next Chapter – Motivate: Remote Team Building Activities

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