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Accountability, Team Building

3 Things Remote Team Leaders Can Learn From March Madness


remote team leaders march madness

For 3 weeks every spring, it feels like half the population disappearstraffic subsides, grocery aisles are deserted, and even some office chairs abandoned. Where do all of the people go?

Well, you could probably find them in front of their TVs with a large box of Domino’s pizza, watching one of the most glorified college sporting events of the year, March Madness. Perhaps you’ve heard of it before. Does the word bracket ring a bell?


Last year, March Madness racked up 11.3 million viewers, an 8% increase from the year before. From underdog victories to office pools, this riveting event is entertaining to say the least. For business leaders though, March Madness offers a little more than entertainment. Here are a few key takeaways for remote team managers from the big event:

 The Pep Talk: Frequent Communication

As each team prepares to take the court, an invigorated captain brings his team together. The coach talks game plan and gives the players an encouraging boost.

Often times one of the biggest challenges of leading a remote team--with individual employees working independently in their own spaces--is conjuring a spirit of teamwork and belonging in order to inspire employees. Such inspiration is integral to promoting productivity, which according to Carnegie Mellon Researchers, can decrease with remote teams.

Like the NCAA coaches do, it’s crucial for you to consistently bring your entire team together. Setting virtual meetings on a weekly, if not more frequent basis, will help set clear expectations and goals and maintain a collaborative company culture. One tool that many remote teams are taking advantage of now is Google Hangouts, which allows teams to conduct video meetings as well as screen-share. The video aspect is crucial, as face-to-face communication enhances credibility, establishes trust, and builds personal relationships that otherwise would not be as strong. That said, in-person meetups are just as important to include in your remote team’s plan as well.

During the Game: Keeping Stats

All elite coaches keep stats on each and every game, from turnovers to free throw percentages and to steals. This way they can identify what’s working and what’s not.

In remote teams, where communication with team members is not as frequent as that in-office, managers need an organized and reliable way to monitor their team’s work and efficacy. One way to do this is through keeping track of the numbers, or more specifically, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Like coaches, managers must pick and choose wisely which metrics to keep track of. Once decided, they can manage those metrics using mobile CRM tools that allow employees to input data and information that can be viewed in real time. Managers can then view statistics on a back-end dashboard to analyze activity and identify trends. Moreover, this simple process promotes accountability across remote teams.

The Brackets: Gamification

While NCAA athletes are undeniably full of talent and fierce athleticism, the elevated hype around March Madness comes from the bracket competition where fans predict the outcome of the tournament either in a national competition or within a pool of friends.

We humans by nature are competitive beings. We are attracted to the various elements of games like achievement, status, and community. When applied to business, gamification can drive great results. If it’s time to re-energize your team, or train them on something new, engage them by incorporating game elements such as leaderboards, point systems, and badges or awards. Brian Burke of Gartner Inc cautions managers of the consequences of lacking clear business objectives when creating games, as gamification isn’t meant to solve every business problem.

So it’s not all madness for these two weeks in March, and it turns out that you and your remote team have something very important in common with these Division 1 athletes. And that is, the value of motivation and inspiration. While employees may be capable of doing their job,  it’s the inspiration that you instill through your leadership that will get them as excited as a correct bracket prediction about their work. With those weekly face-to-face meetings, meaningful statistics, and competitive games, the high spirits and morale will proliferate throughout your team taking you to the final four, and at last the championships.



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Aya Tsuruta

Aya Tsuruta is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly where she covers sales and marketing content through a creative lens. In addition to writing for Repsly, she is a frequent contributor to the music blog, Indie Music Filter, and BC magazine, the Gavel.

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