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Remote Leadership: Tips to Tune-up Your Virtual Teams

COVID-19 has introduced unparalleled challenges that continue to evolve every day. Productivity that was once managed in person, is now managed virtually. Relying solely on technology to collaborate and communicate calls for organisations to practice new methods that aid in the productiveness of all employees from their home. 

The norms that once governed face-to-face teams, do not necessarily apply to virtual teams.  Managing virtually requires alternative leadership techniques. Without shifting leadership through the following tips, commitment and collaboration can potentially decrease which will subsequently cause productivity to suffer. 

It is crucial to understand that although all employees in the organisation are facing these challenges and changes simultaneously, every individual experiences them in a different way. Some employees are eager for the new virtual workplace, while others may find the shift secluding.

The following 5 tips will assist in promoting a cohesive and effective team. 

 

Tip #1: Check in Frequently and with Empathy 

Research consistently shows that supportive leadership creates a team environment where its members become more concerned with generating their best work, whether that be through contributing more of their time, energy, or knowledge. Checking in regularly with employees enables a supportive environment to thrive. Ask questions not only about how working virtually is going for them, but about how they are personally dealing with this new normal. During these check-ins, be receptive, tolerant, and respond directly to comments and concerns.  

While checking it it is important to remain non-judgmental when team members are voicing their concerns and asking questions. Gauging where each team member is in terms of feelings toward the virtual workplace is important in moving closer to creating a productive virtual team. A key indicator in how an employee is feeling toward the virtual workplace is whether they are focusing on the past or the future. Remember, the way in which you communicate with a team member can be more effective than what is actually said. 

 

Tip #2: Maintain Motivation and Engagement

One of the largest challenges that individuals are facing while working virtually is staying motivated and continuing to be engaged with their work. A tip on how to maintain motivation and engagement in the virtual workplace is by celebrating successes and milestones, no matter how small. Starting meetings with meaningful questions can also help people stay engaged in their work and engaged with other team members. These questions should not be cheesy, but questions that can actually indicate how individuals are personally coping. 

Regular feedback to team members is also another facilitator in maintaining motivation and engagement. Consistent communication and “one-on-ones” will give leaders the opportunity to see early warning signs of potential issues that can be hard to identify on virtual teams. Through these methods, team members will stay motivated and engaged with their work. 

 

Tip #3: Revisit Priorities & Establish Clear Goals 

While working on virtual teams, it can sometimes be difficult to hold people accountable. Leaders need to establish and communicate clear goals to decrease ambiguity. Set expectations for employees on current and upcoming duties. Defining timelines is crucial in order to maintain accountability and productivity. Setting clear goals conveys to each team member how their work contributes to the company.

 

Tip #4: Foster Trust through Transparency 

Sharing information openly is important, even when some of the answers are unknown. Vulnerability is one way to build trust amongst a team. Transparency should be practiced between colleagues and between an employee and their leader, to ensure that trust can be built. Enhancing trust between all members of a team can improve collaboration. Trust begins with mutual respect and empathy. 

 

Tip #5: Leverage Systems and Structures

An organisation is made up of many interdependent systems and teams. In order to get the results wanted from an organisation, all of the systems must be managed. The results are simply just the side effects of how all of the systems are managed. In order to keep all of the systems on track, each team needs clearly established work processes. Using tools such as Microsoft teams, Slack, Yammer, Zoom and many others, allows leaders to have the ability to keep everyone on the same page and on track with deadlines.  

 

Finally…

Although working virtually presents itself with new challenges, research actually shows working in teams that are dispersed can actually be more productive than a face-to-face work environment. However, in order to be more productive, teamwork and collaboration must shift. Leaders should check in regularly, provide feedback, define goals, promote trust, and establish clear processes to tune-up their virtual teams. Start your journey toward perfecting the world of virtual collaboration now through implementing these tips. 

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