At the office, you could hear the voices of your team. You could pick up on their tone and volume to discern stress, conflict, or success. You could hear phones ringing, fingers typing. You could see meetings starting, projects ending, performance thriving. But at home? You hear meals cooking and children playing. You see schoolwork on the kitchen table, kids sprawled out on the couch, or that unfinished home project. You feel distracted in your own work and wonder how your team is doing. Are they distracted, too? Are they even working at all? How can you keep a pulse on your team’s productivity if you can’t see and hear what’s going on? We know that many companies were forced to work remotely and these new arrangements require you to lead in a fresh way. Despite the strangeness of quarantine, you still have the opportunity to lead your team effectively. At Front Line Leadership, we want to help you stay informed and keep your team motivated even when you aren’t in the same building.
One of your main responsibilities as a leader is to cast vision to your team. This is still crucial while your team works remotely. You can utilize video conferencing to meet with your team, communicate goals, and emphasize priorities. When you regularly keep a clear vision in front of your team you can be confident that everyone is moving in the same direction.
Trust but Verify
The “trust but verify” mentality is key to being an effective leader, but it is often difficult to live out. Odds are, you care deeply about your team’s overall success, determined that every project is completed perfectly and efficiently. You wouldn’t be in a leadership position if you didn’t. But a great leader trades control for trust. Rather than micromanaging your team or attempting to be a part of every decision, learn to trust. Working remotely is certainly giving you multiple opportunities to learn this skill. Letting go of the details may feel strange at first, but it will empower your team. Be a part of discussing strategy and establishing checkpoints along the way, but step back and trust your team to get the job done--and done well.
Reach Out to Individuals
Communicating vision to your entire team is necessary so that everyone is on the same page. But, make sure you check-in with each person individually. Find out how you can help them succeed, encourage them, or provide necessary feedback and instruction. A good leader regularly communicates with members of his or her team, not only when a problem arises. While the work-related conversation is necessary, use this time to understand how they are handling the added stress of working from home and how COVID-19 is affecting their personal life. These individual conversations will promote honesty, strengthen trust, and give you great insight into your team’s performance level from a distance.
Manage Expectations, Not People
You may need to change your mindset as social distancing guidelines continue. Rather than thinking your job is to manage the people under you, realize that your job is to manage expectations. You cast the vision and set clear expectations for each goal or project. Define communication strategies so that everyone stays on the same page and the right people are getting the right information. Provide consistent performance check-points that hold your team accountable and give them a chance to seek your approval or help. Your team will thrive when vision is paired with accountability.
Reporting Progress vs. Reporting Hours
A solid day’s work doesn’t have to be measured by a set number of hours. Especially if anyone on your team is balancing an additional role of home-school teacher and/or caretaker. If you have clearly communicated the vision and are effectively holding your team accountable, tracking their progress is more important than tracking the time they spend working. Working remotely promotes flexibility as well as productivity. Each person now has the freedom to work at a time they feel most energized and passionate about their work instead of being forced to produce within the confines of set office hours. You may discover that your team can accomplish more in a shorter time. Allow your team to meet their goals, produce quality work, and hit deadlines without measuring the number of hours it took to do so.
While you work remotely, you can still strengthen your leadership skills and empower your team to produce results. Front Line Leadership exists to equip leaders in vision-casting, strategizing, establishing healthy work environments, and increasing performance and employee satisfaction. Contact us to create a unique training program for your organization today.