How to successfully lead your team when you are screens apart.
An effective leader is someone who inspires and positively impacts their people. When you are managing your team, you hope to influence them and foster a strong working relationship. In the past, face-to-face meetings helped achieve so much for the team. As people sat together in one room, rapport was built, and friendships were fostered. As a leader, you had physical gestures, posture, and expressions to engage your people and improve your working relationship with the team.
But a new and unprecedented crisis challenged the workplace setup. Whether we like it or not, remote working or working from home is our current reality. With over a year of Zoom meetings and cloud documents, it's safe to say WFH is not just a trend. Companies across the globe have adapted to this setup and consider remote work as a necessity for survival.
That only means that thousands of team leaders and managers have had to transition and manage a completely remote team. And the trusted tool of non-verbal communication is no longer as accessible in this case. This shift in the way we do work is terrifying! And it also presents a host of other challenges like the (loud) children, privacy, finding a dedicated workspace, and boundaries.
As a leader, your concern shouldn't only be the output of your team, but also the morale. How can you continue to embody the company culture? How can you inspire collaboration and courage amid uncertainties? What does remote work mean for leadership?
Leading The Team without Meeting In Person
We won't be talking about tools like Zoom or Messenger. Your team is made up of humans! And by the end of the day, that's what will get us through all of this. Remembering that we are all thinking and feeling beings. How can a leader inspire with all the current limitations?
1. Make Time For Small Talk
In crisis mode, you go on your call, cover all the points with your remote team, and then end the chat. It's pretty understandable when you're putting out fires or chasing a deadline. But, if that's all that you do throughout the year, we've got a problem. As a leader, you must build rapport with each member of your team. One way to do that is by getting to know them as a person. Ask them what they're doing to cope, check up on their family, show them you care.
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." - John C. Maxwell
2. Set up One-on-Ones
Small talk was a bit easier when you could share lunch together or pop into their office. But in the current set up, you can accomplish this by setting aside time to conduct one on one with your remote employees. We have all these advanced tools to our advantage. Announce to your team when you are available for chat online. Schedule with key members that need support and encouragement. Now more than ever, you need to communicate with your team.
"The difference between mere management and leadership is communication." - Winston Churchill
3. Use Videos As Frequently As Possible
We know just how important nonverbal communication is for everyone. While video calls do not really capture all of our expressions, it's the best thing we have so far. So, make use of the available technology. One tip you can try is taking videos of yourself speaking affirmations for the team. Record them in your group chat. Build stronger bonds with this valuable tool.
"What you do has a greater impact than what you say." - Stephen Covey
4. Be Flexible
In our current climate, almost everyone is going through something. That doesn't mean that deadlines should forego and outputs sacrificed. But as a crisis leader, it's time to evaluate what productivity really means. Some people may find it hard to function within regular hours. While some are struggling with their children at home, and others may need more freedom to get work done. Find what's good for the team and sustainable for the organization.
"Be stubbornly committed to your team, but flexible in your leadership style." - Jo Miller
Anna D. Banks is a Business and Life Coach. As the CEO of Thrive Leadership Institute, Inc., Anna has helped leaders, managers, and business owners strengthen their team dynamics. For 20 years, Anna has facilitated seminars and workshops to help businesses communicate effectively and improve productivity. She is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and a Certified Human Behavior (DISC) Consultant. Lead your team in the new era, start by downloading her latest workbook: "Discover Your Purpose and Thrive in Your Life!"
Anna D. Banks, MAS, CHBC, Copyright ©February 12, 2021. All rights reserved
Anna D. Banks, MAS, CHBC