Three Keys to Virtual Leadership
October 23, 2020 | BY Simcha Felder
Many businesses and organizations are currently maintaining some hybrid model of remote/in-person work, with even more flexibility anticipated in the future. For most workforces, navigating processes, interactions and activities which are usually completed in-person, takes more than some new technology. Problems requiring unplanned, emergent coordination that could be addressed through impromptu interaction if everyone were in the same office, now require coordinated virtual communication.
The National Bureau of Economic Research utilized information from lockdowns in 16 metropolitan areas to compare the changes it caused to business communication patterns. Compared to pre- pandemic levels, they found increases in the number of meetings per person and the number of attendees per meeting, with decreases in the average length of meetings. They also found significant and durable increases in length of the average workday and email activity.
Employees are apprehensive about the challenges they are facing. Employers are too. Leaders of a remote workforce are facing a new organizational challenge. In addition to managing affairs, managers need to adopt new ways of leading their teams. The way you connect, enable and lead your remote team now, will set the trajectory for your next success.
- Motivate and Inspire
Recognize that the dynamics of the office space must in some ways be recreated for a virtual workforce, but you can also re-envision and recreate your business for the better. A good virtual leader will start by clearly defining and then honing the virtual processes that will lead to success. Keep it simple. Move away from micro-management and delegate clear roles and benchmark goals with a heightened sense of trust. Prepare them and empower them.
- Communication, Communication, Communication
Remote work-life integration and remote teamwork can be difficult and isolating. Communication is more critical than ever. Regular feedback and open communication boosts employees’ confidence in their work, improves mutual trust and ensures that managers are aware of issues as they arise. To create a culture of communication and enhance morale, give positive feedback generously and publicly when possible. This paves the way for effective feedback that is clearly understood and taken well by your employees. Remember, people won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- Tackle Problems Early
When businesses are operating in an environment of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, leaders must be sensitive to the barometer of the workforce where information is the freshest and most salient. Lead by example. Strengthen every available channel of virtual communication and be responsive and trustworthy. Conduct regular team meetings to check in, identify issues and tackle them together immediately.
Lead your virtual team with empathy and empower them to succeed.