Leading a remote team during uncertain times

May 26, 2020


By Lyndsey Hall

The current uncertainty faced by businesses around the world will test even the greatest managers and leaders. With many teams now working remotely for the first time, you might be looking for ways to maintain your relationship with your staff and keep up morale, as everyone is under increased pressure and stress. Now is not the time to focus on productivity, now is the time to support your staff and manage your expectations.

Communicate and then communicate some more

Uncertainty produces anxiety throughout your team, other employees, your firm’s customers, suppliers and investors. Silence is not an option as that is often interpreted as bad news. As such, it is essential to communicate and reinforce a clear perspective of what is happening, what that means for the firm and what you, as a leader, are doing to manage the situation. The best managers and business leaders embrace positivity. Focus on emphasizing the positive messages when communicating with your employees.

Establish regular catch-ups

Thanks to technology such as Skype, Facetime or Zoom, it’s easy to have online face-to-face meetings with your remote workers. Create a structure that includes weekly or bi-weekly team meetings and regular one-to-one catch up meetings. You can augment this with other means of communication such as text messages, emails and calls. You don’t want your people to feel like they are being micro-managed but you do need them to feel like they are part of a team, even when they are working from home.

Take time to understand the home-working circumstances of your team

Talk with individual staff about how their home circumstances may affect their ability to work. For example some of your team members may be sharing a dining table as a workspace or they may have limited access to the internet due to the standard of connectivity that is available where they live. Discuss how this might be managed during the transition to working at home and try to agree a framework to help them to manage their work-life balance.

Embrace your human side

Nobody expects you to have all the answers. It’s ok to ask your people to share their ideas and opinions. Try to put yourself in their shoes – what projects would you want to get involved with if you were in their position? Be sensitive to the fear of change. Changes in circumstances tend to activate feelings of uncertainty among employees. Make your people part of the solution, encourage them to get involved, share your vision for success and give them the opportunity to contribute to that. After all, success is a team sport.

How are you adapting your leadership techniques to suit the current situation? Has your team taken to remote working well, and do you plan to continue it after the lockdown is lifted? Let us know in the comments, or on our Linkedin page.

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