Leading a remote team requires you to be agile.
- Drive performance without micromanaging
- Constantly improve communication
- Find ways to foster connections
- Build an inclusive team
- Be flexible and agile
The shift to remote and hybrid work had been growing for decades. But the COVID pandemic accelerated that shift and now it’s here to stay. Right now, nearly half (45%) of full-time workers are fully or partially remote.
Workers are happy with the change. Nearly 90% say they enjoy a remote or hybrid schedule. Employers are also pleased. A PwC survey found that 83% of employers say the shift has been successful. Six months earlier, only 73% of executives had this answer.
The increase in happy employers over time indicates that success can take a while. If you’ve recently shifted to a remote setup, keep in mind that there is a learning curve. Remote and hybrid teams require a different approach to leadership.
To support their teams effectively, many leaders are even pursuing remote leadership training or online organizational leadership masters. Trying to find ways to lead your remote team more effectively? Then keep these five tips in mind.
1. Find ways to drive performance without micro-management
When you have a remote or hybrid team, you cannot look over their shoulders all the time. You cannot micromanage these teams. They need to be self-motivated. They need to be accountable even when no one is watching.
Employees tend to be more self-motivated when they have a stake in the outcome of their work. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to own part of the company or receive a commission. Instead, it means that they need to care about the organization.
To get your employees to care, show them that you care about them. Provide them with competitive salaries and benefits, but also help them develop their professional skills. If employees feel valued by your organization, they will value the organization, and this will help drive performance.
2. Commit to always improving communication
Effective communication is critical for any type of leader, but communication is more challenging when you’re leading a remote team. Make yourself accessible to your team. Establish set times where they can reach you in real-time.
When relying on asynchronous communication, take steps to ensure everyone is on the same page. Asynchronous messages often have less fidelity than real-time communication. Employees may get confused about whether a message is still relevant or not. Make sure your employees can easily tell if a message has been superseded by another type of communication.
Also, keep in mind that you lose a lot of nuance with written communication. You don’t have body language, facial expressions, or voice tone to communicate meaning. By extension, you need to be very careful with humor. You may also want to bump up the politeness in your messages to ensure they don’t seem curt or rude.
Most importantly, keep an eye on how employees respond to communications. If you find areas where there are a lot of miscommunications, figure out what’s happening and take steps to improve your approach. Remote leadership training is a continuous learning journey.
3. Find ways to foster connections
Most research says that employees are more productive when they work from home. This often happens because they don’t have the distraction of socializing with their co-workers. While this can be a good thing, it can also create a disjointed team.
To create a team that works well together, you need to find ways to foster connections. The right option depends on your organizational culture and the personalities of your team members.
Set up an online space as a virtual water cooler. Leave time for small talk during personal meetings or set up online meetings that are just for socializing.
Alternatively, consider getting together in person. Plan fun events for team bonding or bring your team together for in-person coaching and development sessions. Let your team take the lead – ask them how they’d like to foster connections.
4. Be inclusive
When teams are inclusive, people feel freer to share their ideas, and your organization benefits from the multiplicity of ideas and experiences. In contrast, when people feel excluded, they don’t feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Productivity also drops when people feel disconnected from their teams.
To create an inclusive environment, you need to analyze your processes for internal bias and adjust them accordingly. But you also need to create a culture of inclusivity. Start with yourself. Demonstrate vulnerability and empathy to your team. Share about yourself and your struggles. Then, ask to hear about theirs and really listen.
Be aware that people have different needs and struggles. To be an effective remote or hybrid leader, you need to get past your personal assumptions. You need to understand that people have different learning styles and are motivated in different ways. Find ways to provide team members with the support they need as individuals.
5. Be flexible and agile
You don’t need an online organizational leadership master’s degree to lead a remote or hybrid team, but you do need a commitment to learning. Effective remote leadership training is about becoming flexible and agile.
If one approach isn’t working, change it. Keep in mind that people’s needs change the longer they’re with your organization. For instance, employees who’ve only been with the company for a short time may not be comfortable working remotely. They may need more hands-on training before they feel confident on their own.
In contrast, veteran employees often thrive in remote or hybrid environments. A hybrid or remote schedule allows them to create a stronger work-life balance.
Leading a distributed team can be challenging but, with the right approach, you can have a strong, well-connected team that collaborates efficiently. To keep your team focused and on task, you need to be a dynamic, accessible, and inclusive leader. Most importantly, you need to be agile and commit to constant improvement.
Contact the Sparks Group to talk about leadership development
The world is in a constant state of flux. But right now, the changes are faster and more furious than ever. Whether you’re coping with a team that’s shifting to a remote schedule or dealing with other changes, you need the right skills.
However, the right skills are constantly changing. To thrive (and not just survive) in the midst of today’s challenges, leaders need to develop vertically. They need to adjust how they think rather than what they know. We can help.
At the Sparks Group, our robust and diverse team can build your management capacity. We help you develop new perspectives on problem-solving so your organization becomes more resilient. Ready to evolve in a way that meets the challenges of today and tomorrow? Then, contact us at the Sparks Group today. Let’s start with a 30-minute free discovery call and go from there.