As we all work to navigate the realities of our ‘new temporary normal,’ non-essential businesses have been faced with the reality of adapting their operations to a remote work model. For some, this isn’t entirely new. For others, it’s unchartered territory.
But whether seasoned or newbie, one collective truth holds firm – adapting your leadership style to maintain an entirely remote work team in the face of a global crisis is NOT business as usual. It can be TOUGH. But it can also be fun. I’m going to show you how to embrace both!
As a coach, I have had the opportunity to provide guidance, support, and direction for leaders on each side of the equation. These interactions and coaching sessions allow me to bring you some essential tips that will help you to not only weather this ‘storm’ but empower your team to continue achieving #AmbitiousResults right from their living rooms … or kitchen counters … or home office … etc.
For Leaders Who Have Done This Once or Twice
Have you had some experience leading remote work before? Does the current situation look COMPLETELY different than what you’ve experienced in the past? Not to worry. There are a couple of factors at play here that may be making it harder for you to find that same comfort you had managing a remote team prior.
Many of your remote workers are now faced with having to find flow in their day, between taking care of kids who are home from school to navigating a remote co-work situation with a partner, family member(s), or roommate(s). These scenarios present a new range of challenges that your team may not have had to work through previously. Pair this with the weight of the current crisis, the heaviness of the news, the worry, the stress … and it can be hard for staff to maintain their same energy and productivity. With that said, there are some tips you can use to get your team on track, efficiently and successfully, to keep projects, deadlines, and deliverables moving ahead – business as “usual.”
Lead by Example – your team needs your honesty and vulnerability right now in order to feel they can be the most authentic version of themselves, too. This means being upfront and honest about the challenges ahead, but it also means bringing a plan of action that will provide clarity and will harmonize everyone’s efforts into one cohesive mission.
Communication is Key – the old saying goes, ‘the biggest myth about communication is that it’s happening at all.’ Assuming no news is good news simply won’t work here. It’s a necessity, now, more than ever, that teams are empowered with clear cut definitions and expectations. And this all begins with communication and the way you set the standard for it to occur moving forward.
Be Creative – In times like this, it will be more necessary than ever to pull your team in collaboratively in order to keep on schedule to achieve the goals you have set out ahead of you. Explore the technology available to you (like Slack, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams) to provide your team with a space to come together for sporadic “meetings of the mind” and idea exchanges.
Have Fun with It – Social Distancing is proving to be quite a challenge for many. While we all know and respect why it is a necessity, the longing for human connection is still very real and very palpable. Be sure to allot time specifically for social hangouts with your team. Whether it’s a Monday morning check-in, a Friday afternoon debrief, or an after-hours #ThirstyThursday video social. By reminding the team of the real people and faces beyond their computer screen, you will be able to secure their ‘buy-in’ to meeting your objective that much more effectively!
For Leaders Who Have Never Been in This Position Before
If you have never managed a remote team before – and are suddenly feeling a little overwhelmed, have trepidations, or all-out panicked about the reality of having to take this on, don’t worry, I’m here to help!
Much like the advice offered above, one of the most important things you can do for your team is to communicate, confidently, and straightforward about the due dates, deliverables, and overall goals you have set out – with a plan of action to make it all happen!
By maintaining open channels of communication with your team, you can attack any problems head-on and proactively. The reality is, some people ARE going to struggle with their new remote work routine, but you can only help them if you know about the issue early on – before it’s become a problem.
Here are some additional tips to help get you set up for success:
Embrace the Learning Curve – and use it as a tool to bring your team together! Remind your staff that you are all in this together. Being authentic with them will help to foster and re-positioned the trusted relationships you had in-office through this remote work connection. Remember that it’s OKAY to say that you don’t have all the answers right now. Because none of us do. Leadership isn’t about always knowing the right thing to say; it’s about being willing to have the conversation and learn from the challenges.
Clarity Wins – Now, more than ever, your team will be looking for clarity. Clarity over their due dates, job/project requirements, working hours – are they the same? Have they changed? By taking some time to step back and set real processes around your daily activities – while also assigning appropriate expectations – you alleviate the element of confusion, or ‘unknown,’ that is most often associated with staff feeling overwhelmed and “shutting down” altogether.
Corporate Culture – a reminder that while there has been a LOT of change, one constant that can and SHOULD remain is the “corporate culture” you’ve worked so hard to develop and maintain with your team. Did you always have a weekly one-to-one with each member of your staff? Keep at it! Is ‘water cooler time’ a big deal for your group? Set up a Slack Channel, or Google Hangout, for social banter to be used in the same capacity.
Above all else, remember to be kind to yourself. Whether this is an entirely new challenge for you, or an altered version of what you’re used to, giving yourself as much patience and grace, as you are offering your team, are vital in getting you ahead. You can’t ‘take from an empty cup,’ so be sure to practice self-care and set appropriate boundaries with your own time to ensure you have the energy to continue motivating everyone around you to strive for success.
Now is an excellent opportunity to hold people capable not accountable – and if you’re not sure what I mean, I encourage you to check out my blog post about that very topic here.
If you find yourself in need of some leadership support while navigating the new reality of our remote work world – connect with me, and let’s chat about your situation and the challenges/opportunities ahead of you!