Mar

How to develop your junior team members in a remote environment

by Sydney Olszewski & Derek Gracey

In-office roles transitioned to work-from-home in 2020, and junior team members entering the workforce had to take their first steps remotely. Now, as remote work continues to be a popular and, often, necessary choice for organizations, a new generation is at risk of falling behind.

Does this mean organizations should raise the white flag and transition back to 100% in-office work? We don’t believe so. 

As many employees continue to favor remote work and hybrid models are increasing flexibility, we believe in the ongoing sustainability of full or partially remote work. However, leadership teams must spend time ensuring more junior team members are getting the attention they deserve. Here are three practices we have curated to help assist in the ongoing development of junior team members working remotely:

Rigorous mentorship

Technical skills are important to any role, but the soft skills are what set A-players apart. The benefit of the office was, and still is, that junior team members can soak up the behaviors and activity of those around them. Viewing how a colleague structures their day or what language and dress is appropriate are lessons that now must be taught in a more intentional way.

We recommend a formal mentorship program. Pair each new team member with a more senior one. Ensure your mentors are equipped with the resources and tools they need to provide their mentee with the right training. You want to avoid generic training experiences across hires.

Dialing into calls and meetings

If your hire will be making outbound phone calls or attending meetings, in-depth training is critical. Your team may already have training slides and sessions planned, but modern curriculums must go beyond that to compensate for a lack of in-person learning.

This natural exposure is difficult to recreate in a remote environment, but it’s 100% necessary. At Charles Aris, we have new team members dial into our Zoom video calls via cell phone so they can listen in while not being seen by participants. This exposure will do nothing but benefit your junior employees and allow them to adapt quicker to their roles.

Innovate “hands-on” training

If technical, hands-on projects are part of the job, remote training can be even more complicated. This is especially prevalent in the manufacturing industry. Thankfully, there are technological solutions that can make these situations easier. 

We have a client that uses smart glasses for its field technicians. When the technician needs help, they’ll use the smart glasses to dial in to an expert. The expert can see exactly what the technician is seeing – directly through their lenses – and help them through the project. While we acknowledge not all organizations will be able to provide their technicians with this kind of technology, there are innovative solutions out there. You just have to find the one that works best for your team.

Intentional, inclusive involvement

In the remote working world, building relationships with early-career team members requires intentional and inclusive involvement from more tenured members of your organization. We’ve seen that organizational culture can be maintained virtually, but that is at least partially due to employees working together in the office pre-pandemic.

More junior team members may not naturally buy into the organizational culture, and it may feel intimidating to proactively seek out opportunities that will get them involved. Leaders should encourage more seasoned team members to engage with junior employees in both formal and informal ways.

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If there’s anything the last two years have taught leadership teams, it’s that employees want and need flexibility. Organizations that don’t support this run the risk of falling behind.

As you continue to hire and train junior team members in a remote environment, ensure you’re providing the training they need to make their experience meaningful.