Since the COVID-19 pandemic, people learned to work from home as a way of life. As we start to re-open, many employers and employees are hesitant to give up the comforts of working from home for several reasons: employees have found it easier to care for children or pets from home especially when care and school is not available, some people have been more efficient and productive, and employers are realizing the benefits of being able to hire talent from anywhere opening up their candidate pools to many more options.
Of course, with every change there are some challenges. Some of the biggest challenges that businesses face are:
- Employees can feel isolated or less likely to engage with each other on the same level so collaboration can suffer.
- When employees are less engaged, they are usually less productive, efficient, and connected to the goal.
- Depending on email can make communication more challenging.
- Modeling great leadership through less connected modes of communication.
- Accessibility to leadership.
Harvard Business Review Analytic Services conducted a survey of business leaders that found that just 24% of respondents say employees in their organizations are highly engaged, yet 71% rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success.
There are ways you can make a remote team experience a win-win for everyone.
While the technology today makes it easier to connect to teams and collaborate, there are core leadership competencies that also need to be adjusted in order to keep your team cohesive, flexible, engaged and on-track. At the core of this is the emotional intelligence of leadership – which is a core factor whether you see each other each day or you work from different locations. I talked about these coaching leadership skills in a previous article here. Just one important quote:
“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions.”
-Daniel Goleman, Harvard Business Review
Today I want to focus on how we use those skills in a remote environment.
Coaching Leadership in a Remote Environment
Leaders who want to keep employees engaged, need to engage them on a regular basis. They are not seeing your door open or you walking through the office so having space where they can talk to you about anything is essential. While it may not be possible to meet with all your employees every day, here are some ideas:
- Weekly or bi-weekly check-in calls (these could be just 10-15 minutes)
- Daily email or message
- Regular performance reviews with a coaching mindset
Remember to ask them what you can do for them! They may not know when is the appropriate time to bring up unrelated items or a place for them to ask for help. A coaching leader knows that you need to provide the space to talk about bumps in the processes that they can help to remove.
Run meetings a little differently
Keep in mind that having meetings online means there isn’t time for people to check-in with each other as they did before a meeting. These small interactions may seem like just small talk, but small talk is important. It’s how we get to know each other and connect. Here are the biggest tips I have for meetings with remote teams:
Have patience. Technology, distractions, and overtalking each other can happen. Be sure to bring your patience with you. It’s the number one characteristic of emotionally intelligent leadership. See my article on it here.
Have a short check-in for team-only meetings. You can come up with a question for everyone to answer or just have them check in with highs and lows for them.
Value each employee
Praise and celebration is even more essential when people are not in the office to hear all the good deals closed or goals achieved. Leaders can take the time to celebrate the achievements via email or an internal chat service.
Engage people in learning
One way to keep your employees engaged is to keep their learning interesting and motivating. Keep in mind that even though you may be passing on conferences and other in-person events, learning is still one way to keep your best players sharp and engaged.
Also keep in mind, tone in emails and even phone conversations matters. Since you won’t be seeing each other around the office and able to interpret body language, it is even more important that we edit our messages and emails for the tone. It might take a little extra time to be really clear in your message and how it comes across to others, but it will save you and your team so much wasted energy and time in the long-term.
It might be a different way of doing business and it might have even been forced upon you by circumstances, but it doesn’t mean that a remote team can’t be just as productive or more so than before. It just takes a few adjustments.
Need more support?
Contact me with questions or let’s set up a time to talk. Email me.