One of the most FAQs during our Executive Coaching and Mentoring and Resilience Coaching sessions over the past few weeks has been how to manage and motivate a remote team. For many leaders and managers, the lockdown has meant they are having to manage their teams virtually, often for the first time. We’ve helped leaders of global Sales teams do this successfully for many years, although the current pandemic has brought additional challenges, such as coping with the fear of the virus and parents having to deal with home schooling whilst trying to work from home.
So here are some more Tips for Managing Your Team Remotely:
This may sound obvious, but you may have new team members onboard or have created matrix management teams to deal with the crisis. If you know your individual team member’s personality type, their key strengths and what motivates them, you will have a better understanding of how to lead and manage them through the current changes and uncertainty. If you don’t, it’s never too late to ask them to complete online personality assessments.
2. Know Your Team Types:
Similarly, if you know what unassigned role your team members usually take in the team, from Belbin’s ‘Shaper’ to ‘Implementer’, then you can assign new tasks according to their team profile. The ‘Plant’ will often come up with the creative ideas, whereas the ‘Monitor Evaluator’ may provide useful constructive feedback. It may be the more extrovert ‘Co-ordinator’ who will volunteer to organize the teams’ virtual social events.
3. Flex Your Style:
Now more than ever, it is important to adapt your management style according to your team members personality type. One size definitely does not fit all in the current crisis. With the sudden onset of lockdown, leaders and managers were forced in to meeting their team members on a variety of video calls, often whilst their employees’ children/pets/partners/housemates/parents appeared in the background. Even the most private of individuals, who were reluctant to divulge their personal circumstances, had to expose the colour of their curtains/blinds to their manager and colleagues. If a more introverted team member doesn’t want to take part in the team weekly virtual quiz, it’s best not to force them at this time. Also, be aware that not everyone will be able to step up or indeed want to.
4. Hold regular 1:1s via Video:
I have been providing Coaching to global clients for many years via video and usually insist on it, rather than telephone Coaching, as it’s important to ‘see the whites of their eyes.’ On a telephone call, someone can sound fine but, when you have eye contact with them, you are able to gauge how they are really feeling by their appearance and body language. When organisations were in emergency mode regular 1:1s may have fallen by the wayside. As companies move towards recovery mode, it is more important than ever to check on each team member individually and not just on the phone.
Even in Sales teams, not everyone will want to open up about key issues online, so ensure that you have regular more informal catch-ups with those team members. However, be very aware of ‘meeting overload’ and don’t pry into their personal issues, but by asking more open questions and actively listening you will be able to gauge where any additional help is required.
6. Show Empathy:
As everyone adapts to lockdown and the tragically high death rate in the UK, most of us have either been ill ourselves, know someone who has been hospitalised, or even, sadly passed away. Under normal circumstances, sick leave and compassionate leave should be given, but these are not normal times, so be prepared for heightened emotions and allow for flexibility. Once a phased return to work starts, be mindful that some employees may have underlying health issues or have housemates who are vulnerable, so be empathic to differing needs and their fears.
7. Be very clear on Roles, Responsibilities and Accountability:
Again, now more than ever, it is important to ensure that your team members are clear on what the revised company vision and strategy are and how their work tasks and objectives align with these. Employees want to feel that they are contributing to a key project and are making a difference during difficult times. Being aware of their challenging circumstances, it is key to balance the focus on their goals and their deliverables.
Now more than ever, team members want to feel valued and therefore give praise where due and encourage two-way feedback to ensure that team members have what they need. Ask them for their ideas to increase engagement.
9. Stay alert to any cases of Stress and Burnout:
Some reports are suggesting that over 50% of the workforce are heading for burnout due to working longer hours, suffering from screen fatigue, not taking enough breaks, and having cancelled their annual leave. More introverted, technical and analytical individuals may be coping better with the lockdown, however, circumstances do change and resilience levels can dip, so ensure that you are alert to any issues and signpost team members to appropriate support.
In a crisis, people tend to want to be led. As we move towards recovery mode, it is key for leaders and managers to be truthful about the future of work and key challenges in order to continue to build trust and collaboration, especially when teams become even more physically divided and disparate.
Jill Maidment is the Founder and Director of Natural Talent Bristol and South Wales. She is a highly respected, sought-after and effective International Executive Business Coach and Mentor, Career and Transition Coach, and British Psychological Society qualified Assessor. Jill has been working closely with global leaders, HR teams and individuals for 17 years to provide Career and Transition Coaching and Resilience Coaching.
More About Jill Maidment