How to Properly Adjust Your Leadership Style for the Remote Workplace
The transition to remote work has seen businesses make many adjustments, allowing employees to set their own hours, engaging with team members in brand new ways, and working from home offices.
Now that these working arrangements have been in effect for the majority of the year, it’s time for businesses to take a good hard look at their own leadership styles and how they translate to the new remote workplace. These arrangements likely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and could even remain the norm after the pandemic has subsided, so effective leadership is a must-have.
Managing people from a distance is a very different animal than leading in the traditional office setting. Just because a leader was effective in the office, doesn’t mean that their style translates to a remote workforce - failure to properly adapt could mean that your teams are ineffective and unable to reach their true potential in terms of productivity, collaboration, and communication. In order to properly lead your remote workplace, you need to adjust your leadership style with a heavy focus on things like organization, communication, and improving engagement.
Avoiding common leadership mistakes
The biggest mistake made by leaders in the transition from an office environment to remote work is believing they don’t have to change anything about what they’re doing beyond using remote work tools.
Working in an office and working remotely couldn’t be more different - one offers managers the ability to speak with employees face-to-face every day, hold in-person meetings, and check-in regularly, while the other poses logistical challenges and prevents in-person conversation, monitoring, or ad hoc check-ins on a regular basis. If you find yourself managing a remote workplace, there’s no doubt that your leadership needs to change, even if it’s in small ways.
Successful remote leaders have been shown to work with their teams to achieve goals, aiding team members and keeping employees on task and on schedule. Personality only goes so far from a distance, so leaders who have become accustomed to influencing employees with their personality will have to take on a different outlook.
Rather than relying on ideas of what traditional leaders look like, you’ll need to focus on doing, not just saying. In an environment where we can’t see each other, team members are far more likely to be influenced by what their superiors are actually accomplishing versus what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. Lead by example and gain the trust of your teams by showing them your abilities and letting them know you’re all in this together.
Communication is more important now than ever before
Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of an effective remote leader is the ability to communicate clearly and transparently. With teams working far away from each other and only communicating virtually, there’s a lot more room for communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, and vital information being missed.
This is where you come in, working directly with remote workers to ensure that everything has been understood, and that regular meetings and conference calls are held to keep everybody in the loop. Checking-in regularly with team members can go a long way but be succinct and transparent in your communication with employees - time is money, and too much information can quickly lead to confusion and stress.
When you communicate with team members, be sure to let them know how much they’re valued and how important they are to the team. Remote work can be isolating for many employees, and taking the time to let employees know that they’re appreciated can make a major difference. Let workers know there are resources for them if they require assistance, and that you’re always available to help them overcome challenges, meet deadlines, and even just to lend an ear. Be flexible and understanding in your communication, and always ensure that everybody is on the same page - good communication is essential to being an effective remote leader.
Promote a more organized workplace
When you take into account check-ins, meetings, and keeping up with how your employees are working and what they’re working on, there are a lot of things you’ll need to keep organized in a remote setting. In order to effectively lead your remote team, you’ll need to promote an organized workplace starting from the top down.
You’ll need to figure out how you’re going to keep track of which employees are working on certain projects, how they’re performing in relation to the rest of the team, when meetings and check-ins are being held, and how you’re going to be able to follow-up on issues and challenges identified during meetings and check-ins, and those reported by employees first-hand.
From there, you’ll be ready to promote organization throughout your remote teams, working with them to set core working hours where they’ll be available for meetings, check-ins, and collaborative work, determining how they’ll juggle multiple projects simultaneously, and how they can make time to meet with you regularly. An organized workforce will mean mitigating stressors that come with disorganization, increasing workplace productivity and satisfaction.
Consider using productivity intelligence tools like Prodoscore to keep tabs on how your team members are working, allowing you to spot opportunities for further coaching, enhance employee outcomes, identify burnout, and improve employee retention. Other solutions like monday.com and Asana can help you and your team keep track of tasks in an easy way that can greatly improve organization within your remote workplace.
Focus on maintaining and improving remote worker engagement
Finally, it’s your duty as a leader to keep your remote workers engaged. Since you can’t be there in person to do it, you’ll have to get creative. This is where things like check-ins can serve two purposes, letting you check in on how employees are doing while also keeping them engaged. Hold group activities on video conferences, and don’t be afraid to let your team members interact with each other in less formal ways - share memes, encourage storytelling, and do things that make work a little more compelling.
Identifying and rewarding exceptional performers is another great way to maintain and improve engagement, as it shows employees that their hard work is valued. Gathering employee feedback and ideas is another way to improve engagement, as it gets team members directly involved with your day-to-day operations. Your team members have valuable ideas and improvements that could greatly benefit your business, and carefully listening to them can go a long way in making them feel more invested in the organization. Don’t forget to offer opportunities for career advancement and training - employees want to stick with organizations that are willing to invest in their future.
Remote work requires a different style of leadership, one that focuses on critical elements like communication, organization, and engagement. By refocusing your leadership style on these ideas, your team members will be more willing to trust you and your decisions going into the future, better organized, less likely to face stressors, and far more willing to work productively to benefit their colleagues and the organization as a whole.
For more help in managing remote employees, look to Prodoscore. Prodoscore is a productivity management solution that allows management to see what employees are working on and how much without being intrusive like other tools. Contact us for a demo today.