The shift to remote work imposed by the pandemic has affected organizations in a number of ways. Many businesses have gained helpful insight into how their team operates while working remotely, gaining data on productivity and responsibility.
Theoretically, let’s say that your company has decided to allow team members who performed well in a remote capacity to maintain a measure of remote work. And you are assigned the job of undertaking traditional tasks, such as oversight, supervision, and evaluation.
One can make a thin case, in the traditional nine-to-five work environment, for this traditional approach to management. However, in the remote world, these concepts are anachronistic and out of step with what enables a remote team to perform at its best.
Considering the New Paradigm
You are more than just a manager! You are a leader. And, as such, you’re called upon to raise the level of the collective working relationships and the outcomes of your team. You must identify and improve the systems that have been developed in isolation and ensure they mesh with the intention and vision of your organization.
In the current job market, you also must take steps to prevent team members, who might feel isolated and unsupported in a virtual setting, from searching elsewhere for employment.
Leading a remote team requires:
- Intentionality of effort
- Determination to make certain the structure of your work environment supports and enables the best efforts of the team
- Willingness to cultivate deep connections between the team and the greater purpose of their work
How to Help? Listening Comes First
You must understand the cornerstone principles of leadership. After all, the well-being, productivity, and success of others is your job. Knowing that every facet of success is underpinned by working relationships, you must find a creative approach to enhancing and leveraging those relationships within the virtual environment.
When stepping out into an environment that isn’t fully defined, leaders must start by listening.
- Make time to speak with each of your team members at length.
- Find out what is important to them in regards to their expectations and recent experiences.
- Be specific and encourage them to share their ideas about what makes the team work well together.
- Ask for their thoughts on productivity, collaborative functions, and even practices that they see as inefficient.
Perhaps you’ll learn something new, or perhaps the answers will be exactly what you predetermined on your own. Either way, the leadership act of being inclusive and humble will go a long way toward your team accepting the next steps in the process.
After all, you are overtly demonstrating to them that a positive and supportive work environment is not only your goal but the standard you strive for as a leader. This is the first step in engendering the trust and loyalty of your team. In addition, you’re sending the message that you care about each of your team members as people and care about their daily work experiences.
Creating Investment by Sharing Responsibility
When you’re listening to ideas about the efficient inner workings of your team, conversations often evolve into topics such as the organizations and systems within which the team operates. Again, you might have already made assessments regarding the best and most efficient ways to accomplish assigned duties and tasks. Yet, taking the time to hear from your team can surface helpful information. More importantly, it strikes a tone of shared ownership. In a digital environment where the collective responsibility for processes are shared, there is great room for positive expansion in productivity!
When serving others in a new work environment, it should be your goal to determine how growth, for your team and individuals, will become integrated into the working ecosystem. Organizations that value and prioritize the growth of their team members see a much higher rate of long-term productivity, as well as very high rates of retention.
Asking about this topic will surely elicit feedback and suggestions for you to process!
When opening by listening, you position yourself as a leader who not only strives to make each day more enjoyable and productive, but also one who helps your team members move successfully forward with their futures. This leadership act builds trust.
It also creates a situation in which the norms, values, and goals of your team in their new remote work environment are shared. When team members have a sense that they’re an important part of the team, it leads to shared ownership of the process, rather than simple compliance with imposed rules.
Making the Most of the New Normal
It’s a new working paradigm and there are several paths you can choose. You can certainly follow the traditional road by applying the same strategies that produced results in the past.
But, recent seismic changes to the work environment have revealed that practices that might have functioned in the past aren’t always as well-suited for moving forward. Instead, there’s an opportunity to plot a new course. Consider applying foundational leadership principles a little differently. Actively engaging your remote team could well lead to an unexplored upside, both for you and your company.
Get in touch with our team to become a FiredUp! leader.
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired-Up team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired-Up, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.