Managing a Newly Remote Team

Like many others, you may have suddenly transitioned to managing people remotely. I am sure you’ve found it is quite different from managing people in person. There are so many benefits to having a remote team, but there are also challenges.

We must make a shift in our own leadership approach as we transitioned to managing a virtual team. As Impact Partner’s COO, I believe the foundation of any remote relationship is trust, and a critical building block to that trust is communication.

Since nonverbal communication makes up the majority of how we express ourselves in person, there must be an increase in the amount of communication and direct interaction you have with your teammates when you are virtual. Since you lose hallway conversation and quick drive-by chats, it becomes difficult to sense intent in messages between you and your team. 

Here are six things to start doing today that will increase your effectiveness at leading a remote team:

  1. Utilize video technology to engage: Use a video conferencing platform. One of the top three challenges remote workers face is loneliness/isolation. Another is feeling left out. Seeing the team and interacting regularly face-to-face will provide human interaction and simulate their “in-office” work environment. In addition, video will bridge the nonverbal gaps mentioned above.
    • Start the day “on time” with a video team meeting.
    • Open with social interaction.
    • Review accomplishments from prior day.
    • Discuss workflow for current day.
  2. Overcommunicate: Have longer one-on-one meetings and make time for small talk. It may be easier to talk about the task at hand and how to execute it, and then simply jump off your call. Sometimes that makes sense, but if you are not on a tight deadline, focus on relationship. Ask questions. Check in on them to understand how this change is truly affecting them. Your people need your support.
    • Talk about specifics regarding their work.
    • “How are you feeling working from home?”
    • “Anything that I need to know?”
    • “Is there anything you need from me that you’re not getting?”
  3. Honor meeting routines: Meetings that were conducted at your office in person should remain on the calendar and should be honored ON VIDEO.  
    • You may even add in an education component that requires the team to learn something about your firm or the industry and then present it to the group at the following day’s meeting.
    • Create a culture of sharing ideas. Ask the team: “Does anyone have any ideas to share on how we can make this process better?”
  4. Be FLEXIBLE: Unexpectedly working from home presents many challenges. This can include multiple people using the internet, teaching school, or caring for children. With daycare facilities closed, allow space for your teammates to manage the new circumstances they are dealing with while also getting work done.
  5. Set expectations: Your team wants to do a great job. Make sure they understand your expectations of how they get their work done. Be specific about how technologies are used in different settings (i.e. video, email, and chat). 
  6. Have fun! 
    • Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.
    • Ask your team members to share wins and losses for the week. Call on people specifically. Celebrate wins. Support losses. 
    • Share childhood pictures on a chat thread.
    • Schedule after-hours hangouts, such as happy hour, coffee, or games. 

By implementing these six strategies, your team and culture will continue to thrive. Click HERE to access our “Virtual Advisor Resource” website. We’ve brought together advisor interviews and cutting-edge resources to help you succeed as a virtual advisor in the wake of COVID-19 and market conditions.   

-Kim Skouras, Impact COO

1160858-0421