The Do's and Dont's of Leading Remote Teams
...Written by a remote team.
According to Gallup, 34% of the US workforce say that they feel engaged in their workplace.
A Smarp study found, companies with a high level of employee engagement are more profitable by a factor of 21%.
They also concluded that disengaged employees in the US cost their employers $450 to $500 billion each year.
The scary thing? These studies were done before the world went to working remotely. I think we can all agree engagement is more important and harder than ever to achieve.
The concept of leading remote teams is very new to some leaders while a good percentage have been doing it for much longer than the past few months. We spoke with remote teams and leaders to find out what really works to keep everyone motivated and connected. Here is what we found:
Know your people - This is important whether you are working remote or in an office with your team. When working remote, it is important to understand how much communication is needed for each team member. Why would you spend an extra 30-60 minutes per day calling a rep who generates great results and would prefer to have that time to do more work? This would leave less time for you to connect with the people who need the extra attention. It is important to have regular communication with everyone on the team and your team will get better results when you know specifically what each person needs from you. It is also important to know how life is impacting them outside of what they are doing at work. An empathetic leader will get much better results than a non-empathetic one.
Consistent communication - Brian Henry said it best, "Remote teams can feel very isolated quickly, especially if they are not used to working remotely. The communication should not be just limited to an individual, but also as a team. They need the social interaction, especially in our current work from home environments." A weekly team meeting has worked well for many organizations and I have seen some who do daily kick offs which may be more appropriate for your team and organization. This has been the solution for many inside sales teams who are now remote sales teams. This goes back to knowing your people and being intentional about communication.
Lead by Example - Enough said. Leaders should do this no matter who, what, or where they are leading. Your team is a direct reflection of you and if they see you working hard for them, they will work hard for you.
Acknowledge - That work and life are more integrated than ever. Know that your people will need an extra push to get the proper separation so they can stay balanced and get the best results. Slack implemented once a month Friyays. They are off on this Friday to recharge. This shows employees that their company is looking out for their well-being and actions like this have a huge impact on engagement.
Make it fun! - According to Talent Works International, happy employees experience 31% higher productivity. Katie Ronan shared a great article about how to step up the virtual happy hours and there are some great ideas here! https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/company-culture/2020/beyond-virtual-happy-hour . Some other ways to make work fun are, add contests around sales goals, give public recognition to those who are doing great work, and have a way for your team to communicate throughout the day (slack, teams, group text, etc....)
Focus on outcomes - Let your team know what is expected and help them develop the steps they can take to achieve them. Be reasonable about outcomes. Pushing people to their limits during an already extremely stressful time will lead to quick disengagement. Since everyone is in a different place right now, it is best to make the desired results clear and then have a conversation with each direct report to help them outline the steps they can take to get there. Most people will be more bought into a plan when they are the ones who came up with it.
Make sure they have the tools - This is the most simple step you can take to increase productivity and results. Vari discusses how staying active during the workday (at home) boosts your activity levels and simulates the movement you would normally get from moving around the office. Another important note is that remote employees need to have a dedicated workspace to be most efficient. I know what you are thinking and, no, your kitchen table does not count. Employees also need the right technology, support, and training in their tool kit.
If any of these ideas would help you and your business, try implementing one small change at a time. Once you have that one down, begin another. The most important thing to do is be a human and act like you are leading other humans.
Below is a quick list of the do nots.
Assume - The worst thing you can do is assume people are not working hard because you cannot see them or because you are not working as hard as you should be. This is a common pitfall of newer leaders with remote teams. If the results are not where they should be, try having 1:1 conversation with that person and ask a lot of non-accusitory questions. Once you have the employee's feedback, you can ask something like, "How can I help you with ____ so we can get where we need to be?" Make sure you DO what they ask, schedule follow up conversations for accountability, and write down notes from the conversation so you both stay on the same page. A great question to ask is, "How would you like me to hold you accountable to this?" This will create trust, very clear next steps, and mutual respect.
Micromanage - Ever. Remote or not. There will be cases during performance management issues where this might come into play but, if you hire the right people and lead them well, it will rarely come to this.
We would love to hear if any of these tips help you and your business! Please let us know if there is anything different that works for you that did not make this list.
"A meaningful day at work is when we make progress on something meaningful"
- Teresa Ermable
Make today meaningful!