Employees often turn to their leaders for inspiration, guidance, coaching, and help reaching their goals. But that probably seems like a struggle to accomplish if you’ve found yourself with a remote workforce. Face-to-face interactions are the go-to way to communicate in today’s world, but with an adjusted approach, leading virtually can have the same outcome as leading in-person.
Whether it’s via email, chat, or video conference, communicating remotely has its challenges. Your tone, intention, body language, instruction, and feedback can become lost in translation. To combat this:
• Be clear and concise. Give your employees the details and directions they need to complete their daily tasks. Don’t be coy or ambiguous.
• Evenly space your communications. Meetings can be seen as micromanagement, but too few communications could lead to a loss of productivity and engagement. Find the right balance for your team members.
• Use the right tools. We’ve all seen the meme about surviving a meeting that could have been an email. Don’t fall into that trap. Set expectations for how chat, email, and video conferences should be used and what content is most appropriate for each tool.
• Encourage collaboration. It’s easy for employees to feel alone when they're working from home. Promote working together and jump in yourself. Leading by example is a great way to get your team members onboard.
Being aware of and appropriately expressing your emotions is as important remotely as it is in person. A leader with high emotional intelligence (EQ) knows how to handle their emotions and in turn fosters environments where employees can take risks, share ideas, and voice their opinions.
Leaders set the tone for their organization, so having high EQ helps them develop stronger relationships among peers and employees. These relationships are most important because they improve culture, collaboration, and engagement levels in your organization and on your team.
Staying on top of and constantly developing your EQ makes you better at tackling tough challenges and could inspire your team to want to be better at these skills too.
Tied in with EQ is empathy. Showing empathy helps foster trust, which in turn builds stronger relationships.
Technology hurdles, isolation, and communication struggles can negatively affect workers, so pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues.
If you see an employee struggling, have a one-on-one meeting with them and build on your conversation. Listen to what they are saying and ask how you can help. Facilitating their needs and providing them with the tools to do their job shows great empathy and will help them feel encouraged, enabled, and ready to do the work.
Just like in the office, you and your team will need to stay on task. To do this:
• Set up realistic expectations for yourself and your team. Realize that there may be more distractions while working remotely and account for this when setting expectations.
• Set up a schedule or use a project management tool. This helps people to stay on task, see deadlines, and track their workload. This transparency allows everyone to see what’s going on so that no one is overloaded or overwhelmed.
• Already have some tools? Use them! Share documents on your storage site, chat via instant message, have virtual happy hours. These tools are resources that can help your team dynamic and make everyone feel more connected.
For even more insights on virtual leadership, listen to our on-demand webinar here.