Have you ever had a guest who stayed over long past their invitation? Maybe you welcomed them for dinner, but they stayed for the weekend, or a month, or a year. Many leaders can relate regarding the pandemic and leading a remote team. At the beginning of the pandemic, remote work was a welcome change. Now, leaders are finding that the tried-and-true leadership practices of co-located teams don’t always work for remote teams. And research suggests remote work may be here to stay. A recent survey by Robert Half discovered that one in three employees will consider switching their jobs if employers require them to go back to the office. However, with the right skills and a few tweaks to your leadership philosophy, leading remote teams can have extraordinary benefits.
At Bluepoint, we believe coaching is a powerful way to connect with your remote team members. Coaching requires us to commit to a process of intense relationships and challenging conversations that will inspire and motivate others to shift their performance to a new level. How does a leader engage in powerful conversations with remote team members that challenge assumptions, explore possibilities, and inspire others to take action?
Adopting a Coaching PerspectiveAt its core, coaching is an act of faith in others. Great coaches see other people as full of potential, naturally talented, innately resourceful, and able to learn and change. Great coaches believe that people are fully capable of making their own decisions and solving their own problems.
Whether you are next door to your team members or miles away, or whether you are interacting daily or monthly, it’s critical that you develop this perspective and trust others. Through adopting this perspective, remote team members will feel trusted and respected for their work.
Setting an Optimistic ToneThe optimism of the coaching perspective extends beyond individual potential. It is a positive attitude toward the work, the team, and the future. Great coaches have positive biases and are a source of energy for others. Their optimism provides hope and vitality, and it inspires the personal development of their team members.
Remote work may not be what you intended, but it presents plenty of opportunities and possibilities for your team. As a remote leader, find ways to communicate the positive aspects of working remotely and the opportunities for the team. What innovations resulted from shifting to an online environment? What new technologies or processes were developed? Take a moment to shed light on the victories resulting from the rapid change of 2020.
Choosing AppreciationShowing appreciation by frequently pointing out your team members’ strengths, capabilities, and successes is key to coaching and leading a remote team. It helps you connect with your team members and builds trust. The appreciation people value most occurs when leaders decide to look for the best in others and focus on their potential rather than on their shortcomings.
Great leaders of remote teams recognize that they need to be particularly intentional about creating an appreciative environment in virtual conversations. When working remotely, fewer serendipitous moments of recognition occur, meaning leaders need to make an effort to send a note or pick up the phone when they see a job well done. By making a habit of affirmation and appreciation, leaders create commitment and accountability (two critical characteristics in a remote situation).
Don’t view remote work as an unwelcome guest but rather as a great opportunity for your team to innovate, evolve, and build new connections. Coaching is just one set of skills that will help you connect with your team members to help them reach their full potential. In my upcoming workshop, we will explore additional effective tools to lead remote teams, including accountability, communication, collaboration, community, and a deeper dive into coaching. Go ahead, make the extra space in your home for the guest.
Want to learn more? Join me during the ATD 2021 International Conference & Exposition for the session Leading the Remote Team.