For the past decade I have worked and led teams globally from a remote home-based office. Leading remote teams can be very rewarding.
Working remotely may be new for many people experiencing changes since COVID-19. Some people may have to adjust to separating work from home-life, may need the right tools to track progress and productivity, may feel disconnected not being physically around people, or just need some additional structure to stay engaged.
|We are exploring 5 keys to successfully lead remote teams. As leaders, our main priority is serving our people. By developing and implementing these keys, leaders leading teams of any size, in any geography, leaders can be most successful during times of transition, change, stress, and crisis.
Communication and Connection
Change Leadership, not just change management
Emotional Intelligence and Empathy
KEY #2: Communication and Connection
Open and effective communication and connecting with others is the second key in leading remote teams wells.
Being an effective communicator and connector is a key to a leaders success, especially when working and leading remotely.
As a leader of remote teams, you cannot see the people, may be working in different time zones, or all be working on different projects and programs and unable to be synchronized fully throughout your day. There are a few key things leaders can do to effectively communicate and connect best with remote teams:
It is about more than just information. As a leader it is important to convey a message that is clear, but communication is not just a 1-way street. Connecting involves being a great listener, asking good questions, checking for mutual understanding, and paying attention to any non-verbal cues. That last part is hard to do when working remotely. When possible, try to meet by webcam or at least by phone. Email can be construed as impersonal, confusing, or even cause someone to interpret meaning just by the FONT SIZES, or way you format your message. By communicating with your team through phone or webcam, they may feel more open, engaged, and trust you even more (remember yesterday?). Why is this important? Connecting with your team builds loyalty, trust, and a positive work environment.
Set clear expectations. Nobody intentionally sets out to fail at their work. When you keep open lines of communication, AND set expectations, hold people accountable, and serve them when they need you most, you will be successful. When working remotely, find ways to drive results and capture the progress. One way to do that is by using collaborative tools such as SmartSheet, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom.
Lead by example. Leadership starts with you. My mentor John Maxwell teaches that "leaders know the way, show the way, and go the way." What are you modeling as the leader? During times of uncertainty and change (especially right now with COVID-19), teams want to hear from you more, not less. Take a look at your calendar. Are you investing time 1:1 with your teammates? Have you reached out either through email, virtual meetings, or instant messages to check in on your team? Do they see you as a leader leading with tenacity and strength, focus, and making decisions that they can stand behind and understand? Are you not just sharing information, but connecting at a deeper level by having empathy and endearment for those around you? Do you know what your dominant personality style is and how you interact best and where you have opportunity areas working with styles that are different than yours?
Remember, the objective of a good leader, is to serve. When you communicate and connect consistently, employees will trust you, and will produce as a T.E.A.M. (together everyone achieves more).
If you would like to dig in deeper on how to connect, not just communicate, we would love to share more with you about DISC human behavior assessments for individuals and teams. Additionally, let us recommend the John Maxwell book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.
If you are interested in 1:1 coaching on this key, would like to join a small group study on the book, or are interested in how you can leverage these materials and tools for your team, reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org.