Remote leadership not only demands all the qualities from a leader on site, it also adds additional layers of leadership skills.
Here is a quick and easy guide of what to consider if, or rather when, you find yourself in the position of leading at a distance.
Define expectations and workflow
The obvious expectations such as tasks and deadlines are a given, but when managing remote teams there are other expectations that come into play.
Kevin Eikenberry, author of the book “The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership” explains in an interview with Trello (1) that you also have to create clear expectations around your team’s remote workflows. A couple of examples he gives are:
- If someone has a question, should they send an email or post to the team Slack channel?
- How often should employees check in with their coworkers and managers — and how can they signal to the team when they are on a break?
He further goes on to suggest that you pull all the necessary expectations and information about workflows together into a comprehensive remote work handbook to distribute to your entire team to get everyone on the same page.
Create a functional and purposeful virtual environment
Think about how much effort has been put into optimizing the office space to create the best and most effective work environment over the years. Well, the office space has now expanded into cyberspace and this is where we need to focus our optimization efforts. It boils down to making sure you provide your team with the right software/tools for the right tasks. Here are a few questions to ask yourself in the process:
- Can your team easily access all the documentation they need?
- Can your team easily contact the right colleague during the day?
- Do you need document sharing and collaboration tools?
- Which virtual meeting software suits you best?
- Do you have a user friendly and relevant project management platform?
Incorporate social interaction in the daily and weekly briefings/meetings
When your team does not physically meet, the daily interactions that normally occur at a workplace will simply not happen. Most people are social beings and these interactions play an important part in how we feel, it keeps us going and gives us a sense of belonging.
Make sure that there is time for social conversation even in your remote meetings – a tip is to open up your virtual meeting rooms 5-10 minutes before the meeting starts. This way you and your team will have time to check in with one another before the meeting starts.
Check in with your team members on a one and one basis
The one on one interaction that happens frequently and informally at the office by impromptu meetings, a few minutes by the desk when passing by and the like does not occur virtually. Set up a plan on how to keep the one on one check-ins going.
Spend a little time preparing and following through on all of the above and we are sure that you will find the time well spent.
The CIP team