5 pieces of advise: leading a remote team (today)
In times of crisis leadership roles involve both the known, but also new and specific responsibilities. In our clients’ experience, during the circumstances altered by the pandemics, it seems to be more important than before for a leader to build in clear principles leading us and enabling us to react consistently and wisely.
Let us sum up 5 key insights for leaders today:
- Set up a work structure in terms of time and communication
People react differently and therefore they need structure to help them stay on track. Arrange a weekly or daily schedule of the entire team and single working groups, along with the method of communication, i.e. conference call or platform. It is preferable to have everyone be able to join in with the video. The whole team should take part in making the arrangements on how the conversation will take place and how the group and how the individual issues within the team will be resolved. It is not easy to change the way of work after many years spent in the office, however, do try to create a new routine.
- Often contact team members
In these circumstances, the pace of action is speeding up. While talking to the candidates and couching the clients and leaders, we have noticed that the room for caring about the others is shrinking. Sometimes it is just left unexpressed. The reason for conversation may well be of business nature, but it should begin and end by asking about the way the team member is feeling and by talking about it. Employees need a leader who shows interest in and understanding of them. Keep calm and show empathy. Remember the good times together and add some humor, even if this doesn’t come easy. In group conversations, allow for everyone to bring in detail from private life and encourage the cheerful members of the team to share positive insights and optimism. Join in the conversation at least 10 minutes before the official meeting and talk about casual topics and share personal stories.
- Stay pragmatic
The essence of work and doing business needs to be kept up in any situation, emergency included. We need to work for the benefit of the organization and, thus, to our benefit. The expectations concerning work, effort, and production of practical benefits need to be unambiguous. Set the modus for the team, along with the opportunity for the team members to sharpen the focus for each other and set expectations through mutual support and cooperation. The work style should still be such as to allow everyone to offer their version of the answer to the question they make, to offer a solution together with the detected challenge. Allow for discussion, but with specific outcomes and practical conclusions. Gove concrete suggestions and let the other team members do the same. This proved to be a good tool for leaders in practice!
- Do not lose the vision and the big picture
Your task remains the same – to gather people and share with them the vision of what you are doing and the way you are going to do it, about the meaning of being and working together. In times of personal insecurity, it is expected that people will think and care more about themselves and their interests. It is a leader’s job to provide an image of team and unity in work, now maybe more than before. In addition to talks about the present, the topics of future work and development need to take a legitimate place. No matter how uncertain or gloomy the future may seem, the vision has to exist. It should not be made up or made better, it is enough to at least send a message about a short-term vision and that change is a part of life and work. Talks about the change and talks about the crisis precede new, big views of the world and your place in it. It turns out that for people with experience this is rather efficient because otherwise, they tend to feel slightly without sense.
- Allow free suggestion of topics in remote discussions and inspire others
In addition to the existing plans, team members will have suggestions for new projects that you could start or initiate. Also, allow discussions on topics of work enhancement and on what could be changed once you return to the office work regime. Some of the changes in the remote work will surely become a standard when we go back to our old workplace. A free suggestion of topics can have a positive impact on people’s motivation since they have a need to contribute with constructive suggestions in the emergency circumstances. The organization’s mission will also be strengthened and maybe even redefined.
The team needs a new routine, but it also wants the days not to be alike. Self-isolation is tough enough for everyone. Think about how you can change the way of work, about spicing things up without losing productivity. Find ways to have fun: having lunch at the same time in the virtual world may seem like being together and a drink can be fun in the virtual teamwork as well.