Team leader for a team at four locations
All those who have taken this path in their professional lives know that it is not always easy to take over the technical team leadership as a colleague from one day to the next. It is a development process that may take some time.
A major challenge for me was the distribution of my team across four different locations. Four of my colleagues are based in Cologne, two in Berlin, one in Nuremberg and three in Katowice. It is not easy to do justice to every team member. Especially when not everyone is sitting in the same office with me in Cologne.
The exchange with colleagues at other locations was certainly less intensive than with those colleagues who were sitting in the same office. This was simply due to the physical distance, although it was not intended. For team meetings, the Berlin, Nuremberg and Polish colleagues usually connected to the Cologne meeting room by phone or Skype. But it is something completely different to be there live on site – the perception of facial expressions and gestures, and above all the sound quality, differ greatly.
Corona & Homeoffice – virtual coffee rounds for team spirit
The Covid 19 pandemic meant yet another hurdle to getting into the team leadership position. In just the third month of my new role, we were sent to the home office indefinitely – and there’s no end in sight.
But it’s no use burying our heads in the sand. Covid-19 has also opened up new perspectives in team communication for us. It was unusual for all of us to work alone in the home office every day, unable to simply talk and exchange ideas across the desk with a cup of coffee in hand. So we introduced a voluntary “Good Morning Coffee Call” every morning, which is still well received by the team today.
Now that we have been in the home office for over a year and it has almost become our new daily routine, we have reduced the frequency of these calls somewhat, but they are still attended regularly by all team members. What used to be exchanged across desks in the office is now shared in the “Good Morning Coffee Call”, which colleagues from other locations can also participate in. Therefore, I personally feel that the relationship and the exchange with the colleagues from Berlin, Nuremberg and Katowice has become much closer through Covid-19.
Difficult – virtual feedback conversations
Since then, all other team meetings have also been held virtually. Everyone joins in online and everyone feels equally part of the team, since the sound and image quality is equally good or bad for all of us. I’ve experienced firsthand what it’s like to only be able to join meetings virtually – and then the Internet connection occasionally dies.
Even employee and feedback discussions can only take place virtually – even if I am of the opinion here that a personal exchange would still be the better way for such discussions. Distance, poor Internet connections , and a lack of facial expressions can lead to misunderstandings.
Teamevents during Corona
It took a little while to fully establish a basis of trust among ourselves. Even though I never doubted at any time that we would also give 100 percent in the home office and deliver our usual performance – having to deal with possible stress or idle phases of your colleagues in the office as usual is something comepletely different from checking capacities and workloads on a regular basis.
In order to strengthen the team spirit, I thought it was essential to organize a Christmas party (click here for the post) and a virtual Easter breakfast in the current times as well.
These are then all the more the moments when you miss the shared office time. What is certainly missed are the get-togethers when someone from the team celebrates his or her birthday and brings cake.
My conclusion after more than a year of technical team management
Simone Wiche is one of four technical team leaders in the TÜV Rheinland recruiting team. Her focus is on the target group of technicians and engineers. In her free time, variety is important to the Düsseldorf native – whether it’s short weekend trips, long-distance travels or sporting activities such as running, hiking, jumping or dancing. Cuddling on the couch with her cat and a good book or an exciting series are also important. Her career tip for you is: Life is too short for “one day”.
Giving feedback correctly in the job
Formulating salary expectations correctly