Having and maintaining a successful team that shares the enthusiasm for all the projects your company does can be challenging. This became even more challenging amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and the Federal Tax Relief and Economic Response to COVID-19. The ‘isolation’ and ‘social distancing’ is the new ‘appropriate behavior’ and, having that in mind, remote working has become more common than it used to be.
This means that company leaders are required to quickly acquire new skills of leading and maintaining virtual work environments. It is essential to keep geographically dispersed employees connected, engaged and performing.
Another challenge that leaders face these days is that their employees live in different geographical areas and have little or no face-to-face contact with one another. All the changes happening at the moment cause the need to set up different priorities, which leads to little or no room for addressing individual needs.
However, even before the Coronavirus pandemic, being a successful remote team leader was important. Read on and find out how to be a successful remote leader.
Trust is crucial
Every team will function better if there is trust among coworkers. It’s a fact that remote teams have a challenge in that they have a hard time developing trust at an interpersonal level. Leaders need new approaches to inspire coworkers and help boost trust and cooperation.
Remote leaders can take some of the following steps to build trust among their remote workers:
- Organize several virtual staff meetings during the formation of the team or the transition to remote working. During the meetings, leaders should address team goals, present the sense of purpose to the staff and create good relationships
- Encourage sincere communication during staff meetings
- Help people make decisions and act on them
- Help people to have interactions outside the work
High- touch in the high-tech situation
Thanks to technology, virtual working and teaming is possible but nothing can replace human interaction, face-to-face. The high-tech situation at work can cause workers to become isolated and focused solely on work.
Virtual leaders should do everything in their power to prevent this scenario. They can:
- Organize virtual lunches, coffee chats or happy hours for their employees to make them engage with one another.
- Avoid using audio-only meetings because numerous apps provide opportunities for videoconferencing, which would be more beneficial for everyone.
- Make sure they mention all the team member’s contributions and accomplishments.
Productive virtual meetings
Keeping people on the same page is essential when you work online. One of the best ways to do so is by having virtual meetings with your staff. However, virtual meetings that a team leader organizes need to be effective.
To have an effective v-meeting, a leader needs to:
- Have only necessary meetings that are shorter and interactive and you can have a different person as a facilitator each time.
- Make time for people to ‘connect’ at the beginning of every v-meeting because this will keep the employees engaged later.
- Start using instant messaging to check-in outside the meetings from time to time.
Motivate your team members
While working in a virtual team, people are expected to do more work independently so it’s important to give them the freedom to make their own decisions. Many of them are dependent on others to complete their work and they need to have open communication for everyone to be productive.
This is what a team leader can do to motivate the team members:
- Make smaller teams of people who work on the same project
- Provide timely feedback or coaching if necessary
- Call team members periodically just to see how they’re doing
- Celebrate any success over a virtual lunch of coffee break
Individual or collective ‘skill development’ will make the team more productive. For instance, soft skills are essential for leading a team because leaders need to constantly communicate with their team members, inspire them to achieve goals, and manage any potential conflict.
How to boost your team members’ soft skills? Try some of these strategies:
- Use assessments and individual development plans
- Organize virtual team-building activities
- Assess the development needs and organize skill-building sessions
With virtual working and remote teams on the increase, being a successful leader means that you have to develop a strong relationship, build mutual trust, coach and provide feedback to your team members and motivate them, using available online resources and effective strategies. You, as a team leader matter now more than ever.