Leadership has never been easy. It is the most challenging task of all. And crisis times like these demand leaders to exhibit extraordinary leadership skills. Today, remote working or working from home has become more than just a trend. It’s now a necessity – ‘the only way’ to run the business show. As a result, there are thousands of team leaders and managers who find themselves suddenly managing a completely remote team. Times like this require leaders to be flexible, creative, and vigilant in order to get maximum production out of their teams as they work remotely. And to add on – many are working remotely for the first time. This isn’t just about managing remote workers. But this is about – ‘managing remote workers through a crisis.’ With employees dealing with work and family pressures coupled with health and safety fears, establishing and maintaining a positive company culture on a remote basis is a very challenging thing to do! In an effort to help you in this journey and make it a smooth ride for both you and your employees, we have gathered a few compelling leadership hacks.
Top 10 leadership hacks
1. Check on your employees every day
Checking up and expressing care to your team members aids team bonding and gives everyone a sense of belonging. So, be intentional and consistent about it. To add on, make time for small talk. And make every effort to build a strong rapport with your remote team.
Also, use video as much as you can. Whenever possible, this should be one-on-one, and face-to-face. The purpose is simple – to know how your team members are doing, to set the agenda, and provide the inputs/resources your team members need. This will send them a message that you genuinely care about them. And gives them a sense of assurance that you are there for them, no matter what!
2. Listen and listen more
One of the greatest leadership hacks is to be a good listener. Given a chance, listen more and talk less. Because this will give you all the answers you are looking for – with which you can help your employees even better. Thereby, enhancing the overall productivity.
Firstly, ask a lot of remote specific questions to your employees. And, secondly, listen attentively to what they have to say. This will give you a clear idea of what drives them, their pain points, etc. – so that you can take necessary actions to help them work productively and maintain a work-life balance. Here are some of the questions you can ask your remote team members:
- What’s your favorite part about working remotely? (Understand what drives them)
- What’s your daily work routine like?
- Do you feel included in our team decisions? Why/why not?
- How are the tools we use as a team working out for you remotely? (Are they facing internet connectivity/power outage issues or any other problems while using the digital tools?)
- How can I better support/help you?
3. Communicate, communicate, and communicate:
It probably goes without saying that you should be in regular communication with your team members. One of the hardest things about working from home, especially if you’re used to an office environment, is the sense of loneliness and isolation that can set in. So as a leader, you have the utmost responsibility of taking care of your employees’ mental health. Communicate with them often and keep a regular check on how they are doing. Do a lot of group calls, fun meetings, etc. to enhance the feeling of belongingness.
Also, give and ask for feedback from your remote employees. And, don’t hesitate to share your teams’ success, performance, individual contributions, and your plans with your team members. Always, keep your virtual doors open for your employees! Appreciate them and help them grow both – from work and personal front. You can do this by sharing resources with them, encouraging them to take up certifications and courses, and creating an open environment where they feel free to ask questions or clear doubts from you.
4. Ensure your employees are comfortable using digital tools
As a leader, your job is to keep your team connected. Communication/collaboration tools are a great way to keep everyone engaged. While email and text messages might be a short-term solution, tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc. are far better suited for remote collaboration and communication purposes.
Most importantly, get in touch with your employees and ensure if they are comfortable using digital tools. Find out if they are facing any technical or application related issues to be able to help them in that regard.
5. Manage expectations
Help your team figure out what they should do, and create realistic expectations for their work. Firstly, set yourself and your team up for success by clearly stating both the tasks and the reasons behind them. And secondly, help your team understand exactly how you will measure success.
In other words, it will be easier for both you and your team members if you clearly define the scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project your team is working on. That is, collectively design a team success roadmap and ensure everybody sticks to it.
6. Emphasize on outcomes rather than activity
The first rule in leadership is to avoid micromanagement unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is one of the critical leadership tactics. Also, it’s not possible to manage every aspect of the work that your remote team does – given the different locations and time zones. So the best tactic here is to focus on the final work outcomes and measure your team accordingly rather than focusing on the activity or the number of hours they worked. Because at the end of the day – work is what matters the most!
7. Be flexible
Understand that, given the current environment, your team has a lot going on. Though it’s not an excuse for not getting things done, but hear your employees out and give them a chance to explain themselves. This requires you to rethink the traditional idea of getting work done- rethink what productivity really means today! Punching a clock for eight hours is out. Regular work hours are also probably out for many people. Instead, trust your team and give them the freedom and flexibility to get work done on the schedule that helps them be the most productive. And that’s what you are looking at – i.e. getting work done on time. So, how it is getting done really doesn’t matter anymore!
8. Motivate your employees
if you don’t understand what your team members want, it will be difficult to motivate them. So firstly talk to your employees. Secondly, understand your team members to be able to motivate them.
While motivating your remote team members is more difficult, there are things you can do- to let them know what a good job they’re doing and motivate them to do their best.
Here are a few simple leadership hacks for motivating your remote employees:
- Use gifs or small videos to convey what you have to say to your employees. Be it a congratulation message, a well-done job, etc. Add spice, drama, and fun to your message.
- Set a group video call and surprise the person with a song for a job well done.
- Have your other team members write a positive message and send it to that person on an hourly basis throughout the day.
- Conduct a virtual awards ceremony.
- Share digital certificates to express appreciation
9. Instill collective responsibility
One of the ways to sustain a team is by instilling the value of collective responsibility. Also, always use ‘we’ and ‘us’ rather than ‘I’ or ‘me’ words.
In addition, make it clear to your team that the success of one department is everybody’s success and achievement. Having said, don’t forget to celebrate the individual achievements of your team members. Because all the individual achievements together make it a team success.
Also, make room for errors. Tell your team members that it’s okay to make errors. But what is not okay is repeating those same errors again. And, help them correct those errors. Share instances when you made an error and how you bounced back. Encourage your team to try out new things. Because this in turn will drive innovation. Lastly, set fewer rules and create more opportunities. This will help your employees grow and contribute more.
10. Be your team member’s first point of contact
Last but not least – here’s the most important leadership hacks of all! That is, emphasize the fact that you are always there for your employees when they need you. And that they can approach you at any time. Express this via your actions and send this message to your team members till it gets deeply rooted.
Also, as a leader, it’s important that you are aware of what your team members are handling and express willingness to lend a hand to them when the need arises.
The challenges that remote employees face today are unique. So, you will have to understand those challenges to be able to effectively manage your remote team. In other words, the better you understand the needs and challenges of managing remote employees, the better leader you’ll become– and the better prepared you’ll be for a world where remote work is quickly becoming the norm. And we hope the above-mentioned leadership hacks will help you smoothen your remote work management journey.