The Five Principles For Leading Remote Teams by Dan Londero
Much has been written in relation to how COVID-19 has accelerated the movement towards employee’s working remotely. There is no doubt about this. What there does appear to be some doubt about, however, is how best to achieve optimal team engagement and performance when the team is either working remotely or semi-remotely.
Having led remote teams for the majority of my career there are a few principles I have always adhered to which have stood the test of time and they are shared below. I am hoping when you read these that you come to the same conclusion I came to: that the leadership principles for a remote workforce are largely the same although our remote staff will require leaders to pivot (just a bit) to ensure you stay connected to your teams.
- Embrace the new norm:
A wise man once said to me ‘there is no point in fighting inevitabilities’. I feel this way about this remote working topic. The workforce of the future is demanding an improved work life balance and ‘good on them’ I say. We are best served today if we shift our mental frame to accept that remote working is here to stay and embrace it. The sooner we do this, the sooner our people will feel like they are part of the whole and working in a progressive company. We have technology to connect us, we have technology to track progress and the onus is on leaders to embrace a new way of working rather than hold on by their fingernails to the past.
- Be inclusive:
This may seem obvious following point (1) above however, to be inclusive requires determined pro-active action. We have the technology available to create points of interaction which allow for greater inclusion: On-line celebrations, on-line town hall meetings, on-line gatherings, on line team building, on line ……. And by the way, enabling face to face collaboration time where possible, such as agreeing a day in the week when everyone is in the office makes a big difference. While formal meetings transition to online readily don’t forget the power of the informal check-ins – a phone call with no agenda other than to see how people are travelling.
- Be intentional:
Before you go online for a meeting get clear on your intention. Ask yourself “what wants or needs to happen?” and “how can I support a good outcome for everyone who is showing up? And remember, while we lose some non-verbal nuance in online meetings we also gain some acuity. When all someone can see of you is your face on a screen they will be scrutinising your every twitch and eye shift.
- Be present:
Check-in with yourself to prepare to be present and encourage everyone else to be present too. What do you need to put aside to be truly 100% there for your people when you engage online and what do you need to encourage in them so that they can do the same? It is painfully obvious when someone is not engaged on-line as there is nowhere to hide. I haven’t met anyone that appreciates distracted and disjointed conversations regardless of whether they are face to face or on-line.
- Over Communicate:
Staff that work remotely often feel they are missing out. Regardless of whether this may be true or not, the feeling is real. It is worthwhile devising a communication plan where points of contact with all staff are created and scheduled. This way no one is left out and communications can be diarised at regular intervals.
So, there you have it. There will be some degree of pivoting required for some although the basic principles are universal. You can contact me directly if you wish to discuss it further. Leading Well is also hosting a Systemic Leadership Training program starting in Jun/2021.
Dan Londero, Leading Well