How to lead a remote team during COVID-19

Our “new normal” requires leaders to rethink how they lead. These tips will help you lead a team that’s working from home.

Internet access has also become congested because more people are online during the day performing their jobs and attending school virtually. Carriers have reported their customers are using more voice calls and many of them are using Wi-Fi rather than cellular. In addition, Facebook has seen a 70% weekly increase in the number of people using Facebook Messenger for group video calls.

As the pandemic continues to alter our everyday lives, we’ve become reliant on services that allow us to work from home. Meetings are happening on Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Hangouts. In fact, Zoom reported daily users spiked to 200 million in March, up from 10 million in December.

Creating a culture of a high-performing team can be challenging under normal circumstances, but what does it look like during a global pandemic? As a leader how can you adapt your leadership style and processes to meet your employees’ new expectations? Here are the top tips I have learned through my own experience leading a global, remote team.

  1. Communication is crucial.
    Implement tools that allow you to communicate easily. We use Skype and Microsoft Teams, and find it great to stay in touch with quick messages and updates on projects without cluttering our email inboxes.

    You can use a messaging tool to encourage socializing, too. Create a group in Whatsapp or whichever messaging platform you use that is not specific to work. Keep the “water cooler conversations” going and allow your team a space to share their non-work related content.

    For updates that require more than an email or chat message, hold daily or weekly stand-ups. We use Zoom for video meetings and find it a great tool to hold virtual meetings. Your team can share what they are working on, any challenges they may have, and ask questions. If you plan on having your stand-up as a video call, make sure your team knows that ahead of time and that everyone joins using video.  It not only makes the meetings more engaging, but it also discourages multitasking. 😃

  2. Manage expectations.
    Does your company require your team to be online during certain hours of the day? Communicate that with your employees, don’t assume they will follow the same hours as when they were in the office.

    If you don’t already use a project management tool, consider implementing one so that your team can keep track of upcoming deadlines, project statuses, and the items on their plate.

  3. Be flexible.
    Work isn’t the only thing in our lives that has been disrupted by COVID-19. For those who are at home with their children, caring for a loved one, or experiencing another life event that is disrupting their normal, flexibility is paramount.

    One important aspect of emotional intelligence I’ve discussed in the past is empathy. It’s the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they might feel in a certain situation. As leaders, the more we’re able to relate to others, the better we help them feel understood and inspired.

    Check-in with your team on a regular basis and be fully present in your conversations, so you can make genuine connections and better understand their point of view. Once you have checked in, be flexible in creating a schedule and culture that considers their needs and current demands they’re facing.

  4. Cut yourself some slack.
    Remember, you and your team are going through massive changes in a quick time frame, so don’t expect things to be perfect from the start. Focus on small changes to start, and you will build a stronger and more supportive work culture.

    Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. We’re all in this together.

Are you leading a remote team? I’d love to hear about your experience and any tips you’ve learned along the way. Please share them in the comments below.

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The Most Underrated Leadership Quality

Communicate clearly. Be a mentor. Lead by example. Learn from previous mistakes, Celebrate your team’s achievements. These are all frequently shared leadership tips. And while they’re all things leaders need to do to be successful, I believe there’s one overlooked, underrated quality – emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately recognize your own and others’ emotions, and it’s a key component of effective leadership. An emotionally-intelligent leader has the complete trust of his or her team, listens to their ideas, and always makes informed decisions. Today, I’m sharing why it’s an underrated skill and tips you can utilize as a leader:

It helps you build a successful and happy team.
Emotionally intelligent leaders have unique listening skills that allow them to understand more than just the words that are spoken. When you acknowledge emotions behind their words, your team members will feel that they are being heard. This can help you develop team members that are happier and more productive in their work, and more likely to stay in their positions.

Emotional intelligence has been measured as contributing 75-80% of the elements for success.

Emotionally-intelligent leaders are also empathetic. The ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes provides leaders the ability to give constructive feedback and develop their team members.

There’s no place for erratic emotions.
Good, self-aware leaders understand how their communication affects the team. If they respond effectively and use their self-awareness to make decisions, they increase trust with their team instead of acting off fleeting emotions. Think about it. Who are you more likely to work for? A leader who shouts at their team when they’re under stress, or a leader who stays in control and can assess the situation? Staying calm in a tense situation is a mark of an emotionally-intelligent, successful leader.

TalentSmart reports that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.

You can create more meaningful relationships.
You can’t make significant connections with your team members (or people in your personal life) without effective verbal and non-verbal communication. In fact, lack of communication is often the basis for issues between people. When leaders effectively communicate the company’s vision and the team members’ part in that vision, it creates a productive and enjoyable workplace.

The bottom line? Developing your emotional intelligence is a sound strategy to furthering your leadership skills. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you are.”

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