Did you ever imagine how difficult it would be to expand your current leadership skills to include being a digitally savvy leader so you could manage a team working remotely?
You wouldn’t be alone. Many leaders have struggled to adapt and innovate their approach to building a high-performance team remotely.
Because there’s a lot to know about managing a team and getting work done remotely when you can’t see and talk to your people in person, processes feel a bit bumpy, productivity slows down and hard to measure, and people can be easily distracted and disengaged.
How do you keep everyone focused and on task when there’s a connection void that is hard to fill?
Remotely leading a team in a digital space means you need to become a slightly different leader. Understanding your leadership strengths is always a good place to start. Still, it’s also important to develop best practices for keeping your team connected, aligned, happy and productive when you can’t be physically present with one another.
1. Connect Using Video
While we are all burned out with virtual meetings, it is more important now than ever to keep your video on. Your team needs more than just your words in a meeting; they need to see your smile and body language. So turn that camera on and zoom out. Let them see that you are still leading and not just a face on the screen. Invite them to do the same. It may not be as good as the real deal, but using video is excellent for face-to-face interactions with your team. Choose a good video conferencing service that your entire team feels comfortable using. Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams are the most common and easiest to use.
2. Have a Daily 20 min Check-In
This may seem excessive, but daily checking in with your team keeps everyone engaged. Reserve the first 5-10 minutes to talk about life, not work. Keep it light and unstructured. Then take another 10 minutes to talk about what everyone is working on and clarify tasks to keep things on track.
3. Create Spaces to Chat Online
When you were all in the office together, your team may have had impromptu brainstorming sessions or chatted ideas over lunch and coffee. You can recreate that kind of magic through an online messaging platform like MatterMost, Slack, Google Chat, and Microsoft Teams. Any of those – or something similar – will give your team a secure place to talk about projects or have quick casual conversations.
4. Practice Time Blocking
Working from home can be tricky. Especially if there are other family members like children present during working hours. Blocking work hours can help team members divide time between work and family without losing their sanity. It’s also helpful for focus and managing energy levels.
5. Develop Work Rhythms and Limit Distractions
It’s hard not to be continually distracted when working remotely. Stopping work to answer a text or an email can seem harmless at first, but it can also quickly get out of hand. Set boundaries for team correspondence and suggest your team turn off their phone notifications while they’re working.
6. Embrace Being Flexible
Finding new normals in the workplace will look different for each member of your team. Some may need to change up their environment; others may need to work unusual hours. Even if it’s challenging and frustrating, stay open and flexible to how your team tackles their work. Invite your team to be flexible as needed but also let them know how they will be held accountable.
7. Outfit Your Team With Digital Necessities
Does your team have all they need to be successful in the digital world? Consider setting aside part of your budget to ensure they are set up properly with good WiFi, laptops, headsets, webcams, training, and other resources.
8. Understand Each Individual’s Strengths
Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team will help you stay connected with your team members. Know what frustrates them, what challenges them and what they need in order to deliver great work and feel part of the team. Explore our range of team assessments if you’re looking for ways to get to know your team more!
9. Be Empathetic
Your team is a unique group of individuals who all handle stress in different ways. Sometimes it’s easy to spot when someone is struggling, and sometimes it’s not. Be mindful that your team may need more breaks or time off than usual. Be patient and empathetic while they also learn to adapt and manage a new way of working.
10. Take Time to Celebrate and Have Fun
Give your team things to look forward to. Keep morale up by scheduling fun meet-ups or throw a party over zoom. Get creative. And be sure to recognize and celebrate important milestones like birthdays and anniversaries.
Adapting to a new way of working and leading teams isn’t easy. We hope these tips will help you and your team to build connection, camaraderie, and resilience in a new way.
If you’re looking to improve how you lead your team remotely, then take our Leading From Your Strengths assessment today.
The Ministry Insights Strengths-Based Leadership assessment tool will help you understand your strengths as a leader, those of your team members, and how these strengths can guide everyone to work better together while managing the new demands of a digital workplace.