Since the pandemic, many people realized how different online communication is compared to real life. This becomes even more complicated when you have to lead a team in cyberspace.
What makes a good leader may be the same in theory, but the challenge lies in translating it into practice.
In this article, we’ll tackle applying leadership strategies in a work-from-home setup. Learn to motivate and inspire your subordinates even from a distance.
1. Communicate Clearly
The biggest challenge of working from home is communication. This becomes even more of a problem when you realize that by 2025, 32.6 million Americans will be working from home.
A lot of misunderstandings can happen because of the limitations of online communication. It’s hard to understand people’s body language and tone of voice when you message through text or even in calls.
To avoid potential problems, be specific with your questions and make sure to clarify things if something seems unclear. You must also prompt your colleagues to speak up when they have questions or doubts.
A good leader would have to dedicate time to polishing how their team communicates with each other through meetings, memos, and messages.
2. Cultivate a Sense of Reliability
Remote work creates opportunities to watch an employee’s every mouse movement and keystroke. However, maximizing these opportunities could be counterproductive for your team.
The best thing you can do as a leader to motivate those under your management is to show that you trust them.
Doubt from your side will only prevent your employees from feeling comfortable and speaking up about their concerns, as they’d assume that whatever they say would be used against them.
Show your team that you trust them by letting them make their own decisions.
This will also help them become more independent, giving them the confidence to take initiative and execute their tasks efficiently. By encouraging your team to be confident, you increase their productivity.
3. Explicitly State Expectations
By now, you should know that communicating online leaves a lot in the dark, meaning you must put more effort into navigating social situations.
If you don’t clearly state your goals and targets, your team will not likely reach them. Nothing is more inefficient than leaving your team to try and guess what exactly they are working on and why.
It’s crucial that you define what your long-term and short-term goals are, the specific tasks needed to meet them, and how to know when these tasks are completed.
Ensure that each and every member understands which of these tasks they need to accomplish and how to do them efficiently.
The importance of keeping the communication channel open is paramount when your team needs to clarify their tasks, clear up misunderstandings, and report their progress.
4. Build a Cooperative Environment
Cooperative communication is vital because your team won’t be able to work effectively without it. Cooperation is the heart of a team.
Your team needs to know how they can best utilize each other’s strengths to overcome their own weaknesses and meet your collective goals.
As the leader, you should maximize the use of collaboration tools such as file sharing, group chats, and shared trackers.
You should hold meetings frequently where everybody in the team is given the space to speak rather than letting one person monologue.
This way, you can cover your blind spots to things slowing you down and find ways to work more efficiently.
Tools like digital whiteboards or corkboards can help you visualize your ideas further.
Most importantly, you must set guidelines to ensure communication remains transparent and efficient, such as communicating specific topics in specific channels like email.
5. Stay Flexible
Working from home allows you to choose where and when you work. You should embrace this opportunity to let your team work in a way that maximizes their productivity.
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Let them manage their own schedule to suit their specific situation. It makes them more efficient and improves their morale by giving them a better work-life balance.
Giving your team members more freedom also makes them feel that you believe in them and their ability to do their job well.
This also fosters a more democratic environment where people can share their ideas and concerns more efficiently.
6. Share Resources
It can be hard to visualize how you can share resources with somebody miles away. However, there are digital resources you should share with your team to make your work easier.
The most important resource is information on where to get effective software, details about the job, and some tips to work more quickly.
You should encourage the team to share their own advice with one another and extend help should someone ask for it.
It’s also essential that your team knows who to contact outside of the team in case of technical difficulties or if they encounter specific problems.
Most importantly, you should let your team know that you will always be there to answer their questions and guide them toward meeting your goals as a team.
7. Put their Health First
The downside of working from home is that separating your professional and personal spaces is challenging. This makes it all the more important to reinforce break times and log off on time while keeping overtime to a minimum.
After the pandemic, it has become abundantly clear how important it is to discuss physical and mental health in the workplace. Health needs to be discussed not just in a clinical way but also in a more personal way.
The first step is creating an environment where people are free to raise concerns about their mental and physical well-being.
These concerns can be prevented or addressed by keeping flexible schedules and allowing people to disconnect from work after they clock out. Taking care of employee well-being keeps productivity sustainable.
8. Practice What You Preach
When trying to foster a productive yet healthy environment, it’s essential never to forget to be the one to take the first step. Get chatty if you want people to communicate more.
Be the first to fill up your trackers. Show how you stay productive even in a work-from-home setup. As the leader, you embody the goals and values you want for your team.
You are the one who sets the tone for the type of culture your team will have, as well as their definition of accomplishment.
This is especially true with the communication aspect, as you are the one that shows how much one should talk, what should be talked about, and how friendly the exchanges are.
This advice is applicable to leaders from all industries, especially those who not only manage the team but also contribute to the project on their own. By setting an example of a motivated and hardworking individual, you’ll be able to impact your team as a whole.
9. Give Recognition and Constructive Criticism
It goes without saying that situations are harder to read in online settings. People are working completely isolated from their co-workers, which could make it difficult to gauge the quality of their work and how they work.
Standards and norms of the job become less intuitive in cyberspace. This is why giving feedback to your team becomes all the more critical.
Meeting with them individually can become necessary as feedback is more likely to slip through the cracks in a remote setup. Feedback needs to be holistic, so you must point out strengths and weaknesses.
It can be tempting to focus on the latter, but discussing strengths is needed to sustain employee morale and the good practices they are using.
When you give either type of feedback, you shouldn’t lose sight of the purpose of providing feedback, which is to guide an employee’s growth.
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10. Evolve with Technology
In this day and age, technology is progressing at a rapid pace. Working in a digital landscape puts you in the heat of technological progress. This means you need to improve the dynamics of your team along with the digital platforms in which you operate.
Use responsive strategies to make the changes necessary to sustain, if not improve, your team’s performance in remote work. Never underestimate the potential of the new tools on the market, but also utilize the good old technological advancements, such as a VPN Android download.
It’s essential to continuously study how to adjust your leadership strategies to a shifting digital landscape.
With the emergence of new tools, you might find yourself using outdated leadership approaches. However, with the new ones, you might evolve in your leadership style and set a tone for innovation and creativity in your team.
Also read: 12 Best Remote Desktop Apps for Mac
Leading your team through cyberspace requires adaptability, open communication channels, and reliance on each other.
In a setup where employees are isolated from each other, it’s essential that you explicitly offer your support and create a healthy environment that makes people feel free to voice their concerns.
Good luck helping your team navigate through the remote work setup.