In this article, I would like to share my experience with Personal Maps in the remote and digital work environment. This is a great tool and approach I learned in the Management 3.0 framework to get to know your team better.
When you work at a distance and you don’t see each other, it’s crucial to improve the understanding and communication within the team. For this, I decided to create and use a personal map in my own remote team – people I work within my network as an independent consultant. Let’s have a quick insight into what we did and how this helped us to collaborate better remotely.
Since March 2020, we all have been working remotely 100 percent. Though we were used to remote work, we all felt quickly, that working remotely during a pandemic is a different situation and comes along with other unexpected things that bring more stress at work.
We wanted to improve not only collaboration but also to build stronger connectivity and trust which is important for high-performance teams. Decreasing the distance among each other by getting to know each other better (work and private life) and to know what the other team members have in mind does not only increase collaboration but also a great team spirit, prevents isolation and therefore supports mental health.
We needed a concept to transfer the concept of “Management of Walking” around in the remote work environment. Because we are a team of independent consultants, we don’t have a manager or a boss. However, we wanted to have an approach to have some social interaction beyond virtual coffees to make each other feel important.
What is a Personal map and my experiences to set it up?
A “Personal Map” is a mind map showing a person’s personal topics, values, life – it connects work-related topics like projects/skills with private topics like hobbies to show an own story.
To set up a personal map you can use any mind map tool. We decided to create a Mural board to which we have all access and share our personal maps.
The first step is to create a mind map/personal map about one person. Just put the person’s name in the middle and then arrange categories around it. Categories can be work-related and interests like hobbies, goals, and values. Then try to recall everything about this person. The important and the most effective and crucial thing is not to create a personal map about yourself, but I create one about your team members. Try to bring all your knowledge about them to their personal map. You might be surprised how little you know about your colleague. This was a big learning for us.
The second step is to evaluate your map. For this, we paired team members who met in a virtual meeting to interview themselves about their personal map. They asked if they were right in the different topics and interviewed each other to fill in the gaps. This was quite fun. And it built a strong team bond because we got each other to know by telling stories. And we found it important to share and talk about not only about projects, tasks but also about private stuff.
The third step we did was to share all personal maps on the Mural boards to find common interests in the whole team. We updated the personal maps regularly.
To set up a personal map you can use any mind map tool. We decided to create a Mural board to which we have all access to and share our personal maps.
Example Mural board of a personal map:
My learnings and experiences using a Personal map
- I can highly recommend using this tool and approach to ensure connectivity, build trust, and have more fun in the workplace. You can also use it to onboard new team members.
- By creating personal maps of each other understanding each other grew a lot. We could work better together and foster collaboration after this approach.
- The Mural board helped us to create, share the maps, and most important to be creative like upload images, using different sticky notes and colours to structure categories and topics. As we kept the maps digital, it was easy to share the maps in a remote work environment and update them regularly.
- We found out that some people need a template to get an idea of what to fill out. So, we provided a template on the Mural board.
- When somebody does not want to speak about personal stuff that much, do not force them to do that. Be satisfied when they talk about hobbies.
- Write down every question you have in mind about the person and you would like to ask in advance. During the interview, we tend to forget to ask important things.
Because we are a small team everybody created a personal map about every colleague and interviewed every person. When you are a bigger team or organisation and you can’t do a personal map of all people, the management 3.0 framework recommends following the proximity principle: the first principle is to match your proximity with the importance to work as people in your project, you work with, you have the same customer, you have to communicate very often. The second proximity principle is to be diverse regarding work, location, background.