For many of us, the last 30 days feels like 30 months. Emergency response activities and contingency planning have impacted our businesses, our families and our lives in unprecedented ways. As we settle into the “new normal”, it’s more imperative than ever that we bring our A-game with remote leadership techniques. Beyond demonstrating the usual behaviors of exemplary leaders, there are additional factors to consider in these times.
This article introduces 5 remote leadership techniques to apply during COVID-19.
Common Remote Work Challenges
As human beings, we are wired for connection and community. And although remote working has been with us for some time, we have to remember that it also comes with unique challenges.
1. Communication Issues
Communication between individuals is primarily non-verbal. Studies show that only 7% of a message from one person to another is transmitted in words alone. The rest is tone and body language. So if we are using words alone (via email or messaging) where we would normally communicate via other means, much of the information can be “lost in translation.”
Although modern technology provides us with full audio and video experience, there will still be a loss of fidelity that needs to be compensated for in other ways.
2. Distractions At Home
Not only do we have employees working from home, but there are other distractions too. Schools, daycares and other childminding services are now closed, so people with children are involved in homeschooling and keeping their kids occupied.
And even if children are older or not present in the home, many families are trying to be productive in shared spaces like dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and common areas
3. Access To Information and Systems
In some ways, we are fortunate to live in these times where we have access to digital tools and information from home via the Internet. But most firms have at least some data or systems that are not accessible remotely (e.g. paper files) or many respond less quickly through consumer bandwidths.
How to Effectively Lead Remote Teams
1. Regular Virtual Team Huddles
This is the time to increase the frequency of team meetings. Many firms are now implementing daily or even twice daily all-hands sessions and sub-team meetings. This helps to keep people connected, and also ensures that the organization can have a shared pool of the most current information about changes in the world. Check out our downloadable Working Remotely Best-Practices Guide.
2. Shared Online Workspaces and Tools
Taking full advantage of online workspaces can keep people productive and engaged. Virtual meeting tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Hangouts can do wonders for keeping people connected and focused. Likewise shared workspaces like online documents, databases (CRMs and ERPs) or project management tools (Asana, Basecamp, Microsoft Planner, etc) can keep key initiatives moving forward.
3. Acknowledging The Stress and Showing You Care
People are experiencing a lot of fear right now; fear of wage and job loss, fear for their own health and that of their family, and fear of change. This can’t be swept under the rug. As leaders, we need to recognize and even allow our teams to talk about their emotions, encourage people to show up every day as they are, and be willing to share feelings either one-on-one with us or in a group. As leaders, we may be one of their few lifelines and we can give them the gift of our time and attention.
4. Extreme Humility and Transparency
Good news or bad news, people want the truth. It’s good practice to be open about the state of the business, even if that means customers are canceling or receivables may not be collecting. Transparency not only builds trust but if everyone has the same information then creative solutions can be sparked from anyone in the organization.
At the same time, we have to be ourselves. Opening up about our own feelings, and even our fears can go a long way in making people comfortable in sharing their emotions.
5. Brightness Of Future
More than ever, employees need to be inspired by a clear and desirable future state. As leaders, we need to have a plan and speak with enthusiasm about what the future will hold for the organization.
This is where work you may have done in the past on company vision, values and strategy becomes critically important in helping people who may be discouraged by these times to know that there is a brighter future and a plan to get there.
There Is No Silver Bullet
If you as a leader feel you have all the answers to get your firm through the COVID-19, then you are probably wrong. There is more uncertainty today for businesses and the world than any of us have experienced in our lifetimes. This is the time to be honest, nimble, and collaborative.
It’s also valuable to recognize that the most admired leaders in history faced difficult times and adversity. This is the time for you to grow as a leader.
Calm waters don’t make good sailors.
Now that you are equipped with some remote leadership techniques, the team at Results is here to help with business checklists, informative business articles, online leader circles, and additional business planning tools to get you through the COVID-19 pandemic. We also recommend visiting our Events page to register to our Unleashed Series—our free weekly webinar series designed to bring you tools, strategies, and best practices to unleash your business potential.
Ready to take your business to new heights? Apply for a complimentary Business Execution Assessment.