By Debra Kunz, Executive Coach and Founder, Center for Deliberate Growth®
As business conditions change, the need for effectively leading virtual teams and remote employees is rapidly increasing. Whether you’ve been leading virtual teams for a while, or it’s a sudden development to lead people who are working from home, use the steps below to gain two things:
1. Accelerate the productivity of your virtual teams and remote employees, and
2. Simplify the complexity of being their leader.
4 Steps to Simplify Virtual Leadership and Create Productive Teams
1. Prevent the “Out-Of-Sight-Out-of-Mind” Syndrome.
Reviewing the team’s purpose and establishing some Ground Rules for how the team wants to communicate and function avoids the “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” syndrome – a common blind spot that I see in leaders and team members.
- Developing a short Team Charter is one method that gives this process some structure. The process could be a 30 minute discussion or a 3 hour strategic session. Both have value. Do something to start. If you’d like my 7 questions that spark strategic thinking, send me an email.
- With Ground Rules (and especially a Team Charter) in place, the team has an opportunity to begin to manage itself.
- If you are a leader of remote employees who aren’t part of the same team, you could still establish some Ground Rules and expectations for how you will stay in touch with that person and vice versa.
2. Not More Effort, Different Effort.
Effectively leading remote employees and virtual teams doesn’t require more effort, it requires different effort. You may not be down the hall or in the same building with each other, but you can still function as a team if you intentionally choose to.
- Grumble less about the inconvenience of the people being in different places, and focus more on the purpose and goal of this team or a particular project.
- Ask yourself, and then ask the team, “what is the primary objective of this team or this project?” Goals give people a sense of direction, regardless of their physical location.
- The real secret to engagement is sharing why this work/project/initiative is crucial to the business and how each person’s role contributes to that result.
3. Choose Effective Tech Tools.
If you already have tech tools in place:
Invest the time to learn about all of their features. There may be options or settings that will make working together easier if you only knew about them.
If you’re exploring new tech options:
First choose the best way to communicate, and then choose the tech to help you. Otherwise, you will continuously be frustrated by the disconnect between how you want to work with each other, and then trying to shove that method into how your tech works.
- With chat, text, email, video, online meetings, webinars, and phone calls, there are multiple avenues for communication. And, there are numerous systems available to choose from.
- If remote employees or virtual teams are new to you, my clients tend to use Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
4. Staying in Touch and Accountability.
Hold regular status meetings and project updates just as you would if you were in person.
When team meetings, project status update meetings, or staff meetings are effectively facilitated, they also create accountability for each person and for the team as a whole.
- Include all of the team members, regardless of their location.
- Use video to help keep people engaged, paying attention, and connecting with each other.
- The method to communicate may be different, but the need to be on the same page will always be the same.
What’s come to mind that you’d like to address now?
Debra joined us LIVE on Facebook on March 26th to discuss how to effectively lead virtual teams. Watch the Replay
About the Author: Debra Kunz is an Award-Winning Executive Coach and Business Performance Consultant, and the Founder of the Center for Deliberate Growth®. With over 25 years of experience, Debra specializes in teaching and implementing practical leadership, business performance, and growth strategies that unlock prosperous results at an intentional pace. She delivers in-person and virtual programs for US and international clients, and her unique coaching method includes the option to measure the ROI.
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