Who could ever have imagined that virtual work would become the standard way of doing business for many — and that it would happen so fast!
Leading a remote team presents challenges beyond the scope of in-person management practices. New approaches are required to manage across functional and geographic boundaries when in-person contact is forbidden. Here are three keys for success:
- Set up regular team and individual meetings. Once a week catch up meetings won’t work when your employees can’t pop into your office for a quick chat during the workday. Avoid getting bombarded with calls and emails by scheduling regular, consistent daily or weekly meeting times with individuals on your team and with stakeholder groups working on specific projects. Add a daily “open office” hour to your calendar where you’re available for anyone to drop in via a collaborative tool.
- Don’t assume that everyone on your team knows how to use the tools and technology. Set up training sessions led by power users or IT personnel to get everyone up to speed. Be sure to record the training sessions and create a list of training that you can share with new employees or those who need a “refresher.”
- Optimism and energy are contagious. When working virtually is new for you and your team, chat, text, email, and phone calls will be proxies for face-to-face interaction. As their leader, you will have to be more mindful of sending out positive messages to keep everyone motivated and engaged. Here are some tips:
- When you are in a meeting, try to do it standing.
- Use gentle humor and levity as a relief valve.
- Smile when speaking, even when the team can’t see you.
- Give praise freely.
Remember that we are social creatures who long to belong. Strive to create a culture where your employees feel included and safe to contribute and participate in this new virtual environment.