Six Steps to Improve Your New Virtual Reality
With millions of employees being required to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders need to adapt to engage and support their employees and teams working remotely.
During my executive career, I worked on, as well as managed, global teams. Through that experience, I learned a lot about leading teams remotely to achieve business goals. Now, as an executive coach, I primarily work with clients in a virtual setting.
With the new reality of the COVID-19 crisis, many are learning the challenges and the opportunities of leading in a virtual world.
If you are new to managing remote workers or find your current remote management strategy not working, I offer these six steps to achieve positive work outcomes in a virtual setting:
Establish a team cadence. Engage the team in this process. Involve members, for example, in determining frequency of staff meetings— twice a week, weekly, every other week or monthly? Also, solicit their input on meeting length and meeting times/days. You will receive multiple points of view, but this approach allows your employees to be heard and their needs to be considered. As the leader, choose an option that works best for the majority or allows for some fluctuations, realizing that not everyone may be satisfied.
Involve your team in the agenda. As the leader, take responsibility for assembling and distributing the overall agenda, either personally or through someone assigned this role on your team. Request team members submit their discussion topics by a set deadline, so you can consider agenda items that are most relevant to them and ensure you don’t overlook anything vital to your team goals or other organizational priorities. Send out the agenda and supporting materials prior to your meeting.
Use technology to enable success. Use video meetings when possible to keep visual connection that allows you to combine materials shared in the meeting. Video or teleconferences can be recorded and allow team members to review if they are attending other meetings or have critical personal needs caused by disruption due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Establish a 1:1 cadence. Individual calls or video meetings with each employee complement team meetings and allow for focused discussions with members on your team. Again, engage each team member in the process of establishing meeting frequency, meeting dates/times, typical agenda items, etc. Have your individual staff members provide the agenda for these meetings once you agree on the agenda format and content.
Listen to understand. In these 1:1 sessions, try to understand what is going on in the lives of your employees in addition to reviewing work related items. Provide encouragement as well as practice active listening and coaching. Ask how you can be of help to them. Share appropriate resources with them or follow-up as needed.
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Carl W. Buehner
Encourage and model remote teamwork. In a remote work world, people don’t have the ability to share coffee or lunch or grab an open meeting space to easily collaborate and get things done. Now, more than ever before, they need to engage with their teammates on shared goals and projects through remote collaboration and teamwork.
We find ourselves in extraordinary times. Everything seems to have been knocked off center based on new pressures we all face with social distancing, school closures, significant others also now working from home, home-schooling children, fear of the virus affecting family and friends, etc.
The best leaders know that employees want to contribute their expertise and skills for the success of the enterprise. By establishing a successful communications strategy and cadence and extending support to remote employees and teams, you set a positive example that will deliver on organizational goals and meet the needs of your customers.
How can executive coaching help you and your team perform better to produce outstanding results in a virtual world? If you are struggling with this, please let me know how I can be of help.
Lance Hazzard, CPCC, ACC, is a certified Intelligent Leadership Executive Coach helping people and organizations successfully achieve what’s next. He is Executive Coach and President at Oppnå® Executive & Achievement Coaching. Lance and Eric T. Hicks, Ph.D., co-authored the book, Accelerating Leadership, published in June 2019 and now also available as an e-book. More information can be found on the book, Lance and Oppnå® Coaching at the links below: