Most leaders are now managing remote teams, something they had no experience with just a few months ago. Although I’ve been successfully working with virtual teams and remote groups for years, I know it can be a major challenge. But just use my top 4 tips to communicate remotely, and you’ll be able to manage, inspire, engage, and lead all your virtual teams.
1) Initiate Virtual “Fireside Chats”
A dynamic way to engage and gain insight when leading remotely is to convene more skip level meetings. I suggest that you brand them as fireside or coffee shop chats. Bring together small groups of employees, to ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute. You don’t want to turn it into a presentation. You’re not doing this to cover bullet points. The goal is to put each team member at ease, open up an informative dialog, and convey your genuine interest and empathy.
2) Engage and Ask Revealing Questions
Of course, employees will expect you to get the ball rolling, so prompt them with questions that are somewhat open-ended.
Ask how they are doing, what you can do better to support them, and what resources they feel they need. You want them to understand that your role is to take care of them. What I love to hear, and hear often from leaders who follow this tip, is that the employees want to do it again and again.
3) Provide Continuous Honest Feedback
I also keep hearing how it’s getting harder to obtain helpful feedback. Perhaps everyone’s too busy. Or leaders don’t feel comfortable giving candid and honest feedback over a virtual platform. But somehow, my best clients find a way. They know how critical to their leadership it is, and much people need and value it. That’s particularly true since employees are so skeptical about the future and afraid of layoffs. Knowing that they are doing great from their bosses’ perspective gives them confidence and reassurance. They’ll also be uplifted when you give them feedback on how to advance their professional development.
4) Promote Inclusive Collaboration
Provide adequate air time so everyone has a chance to share their ideas and thoughts. Say, “Let’s hear from some of the others who we’ve not heard from today.” Invite everyone to come to the table to share ideas, insights, challenges, and solutions. Send out a pre-read, asking them to come prepared to share their insights. This shows that you are being inclusive. That also helps streamline calls and keep them brief, so people aren’t overwhelmed with online conferencing all day long.
The Bottom Line
These virtual fireside chats serve multiple purposes, while they inform and inspire. What you’ll learn is worth many times more than the investment of time and effort to organize them. They’re a great way to keep teams connected, engaged, and focused. As always, letting your team members know that you believe in them does wonders to elevate team morale.
Sarah’s Accelerator Questions
To get the most out of your skip level meetings, ask yourself:
- Who haven’t I heard from lately, and how can I do a better job of including them?
- How can I use feedback to encourage people to look forward, rather than backward, during these tough times?
- What is the best time of day to have these meetings?
The more forethought you put into them, the more rewards you’ll reap.
An experienced executive coach can play an invaluable role to keep you fueled with competitive high-productivity momentum. If you’d like to learn Sarah’s simple yet highly effective leadership and corporate DNA strategies, tips, and insights, sign up here to receive her newsletter. https://hathornconsultinggroup.com/subscribe/