Working remotely is becoming more commonplace today. Some staff members may be located in different areas, even those in the same town may choose to work outside of the main office and many companies are now hiring virtual staff. Remote teams are becoming a common occurrence.
With the technology available, it is very easy to manage from an administrative perspective but what about leadership? How do you effectively lead people who you don’t physically spend time with?
It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Many teams are performing very well and enjoy high levels of engagement even when they are isolated from each other.
The following tips will certainly help.
1. Know and Engage with your team
Not everyone is suited to working and being managed remotely. You need to be self-motivated and driven to be able to do it well. To lead remote staff a vital component is knowing your team well. Do they need the day to day interaction and guidance or are they self-driven enough to work remotely? How well do you know your staff members? Can you say if they are performing at their best even if you’re not there?
2. Organised Communication
There are many ways to communicate other than face to face. Weekly skype meetings, Gmail chat, emails etc. Find a way to keep in touch constantly and establish a strong communication culture so you are all on the same page. Let each team member know the importance of communication and set up a firm schedule for keeping in touch, stick to it!
3. Be Organised
Leading a team remotely when you’re not organised is difficult to say the least. Have strong systems in place and make sure everyone is following them. When things aren’t done on time by a member, follow up and hold them accountable. Systemisation is key to your leadership survival with a remote team.
4. Utilise the Best Technology Available
There is now so much available to assist with communication across the miles, make the most of it. There are many ways you can host your meetings using platforms like Skype, Google hangout, GoToMeeting to name just a few. A shared calendar is very useful to keep everyone up to date on who’s doing what. Programs like Evernote, Trello etc. allow you to share documents and projects.
5. Don’t be Distant!
While you are distant in location, make sure you aren’t distant in your relationships. You can still be available to members of your team no matter where they are located. Make a habit of popping up on chat and ask how they are doing, give them a little feedback, open the conversation. It won’t take long until they feel comfortable reaching out. Imagine the chat is like your office door, if you are available then you can show that, if you are busy you simply hit the ‘invisible’ or ‘offline’ buttons.
Effective leadership requires ongoing, consistent effort whether it is in the flesh or in the virtual world. Opening up honest, positive communication and leading well in either world is well within your reach.