By Tomahawk Recruitment, May 1, 2020
Whilst remote business operation is now genuinely plausible due to technology and communication platforms, it also highlights the importance of leadership, autonomy, productivity, and wellbeing.
These are unprecedented times where your team requires support and guidance with remote leadership like never before. At Tomahawk, we helping our trusted clients navigate this new terrain.
So where do you place your focus?
The 3 Fundamentals of Remote Leadership
In this current climate, there are 3 fundamentals of Remote Leadership in descending order of importance:
1. Emotional Wellbeing
2. Rules of Engagement
1. EMOTIONAL WELLBEING
The Harvard Business Review(1) states that ‘emotional intelligence and emotional contagion tells us that employees look to their managers for cues about how to react to sudden changes or crisis situations’.
No surprises here. The culture of an organisation flows from the top down and this is no exception. Therefore, priority number 1 is to manage the emotional wellbeing of the leadership group.
Step1. The cultural head of the business must be front and centre in communication with all team members – whether its via email, video, etc. The key here is to genuine express your concerns as well as what the company is committed to. Team members will see through lies and make up their own stories, so you’re far better off creating one unified and authentic story. The best chance your organisation has of surviving is if you work as a team and support one another.
Needless to say, time is of the essence here and this needs to be conducted efficiently, so that you can move on to managing the wellbeing of the team members. Your leaders are your leaders for a reason and this task should take no longer than a day.
Your leadership team can now move on with managing the wellbeing of their respective team. Following is a roadmap that may assist:
1. Address the ‘what’s so’ about what they are dealing with. Create a safe environment to discuss and address what’s impacting them or what they’re nervous about.
2. Be honest! Maybe you’re uncertain? Let them know. As stated before, the last thing you want to do is lie.
3. Ensure people are acknowledged and feel good about themselves. A sense of belonging is often a greater factor in workplace engagement than physical circumstances and job safety. Forbes Magazine has a great article about belonging at work and how to foster it.
4. Assign an online mentor for new employees who is available to answer any questions, especially in relation to setup, processes and document locations.
5. Encourage physical activity for 30-45 minutes a day as well as water intake.
6. Set up structures to combat the feeling of loneliness & isolation. Here are a few practises that will help:
Listen out for signs (really listen and be present). If you sense something, pick up the phone and call them.
Provide opportunities for remote social interaction (informal conversations about non-work topics). Leave some time at the beginning of team calls just for non-work items (e.g., 'we’re going to spend the first few minutes just catching up with each other. How was your weekend, what have you been up to?'). Other options include virtual pizza parties (in which pizza is delivered to all team members at the time of a videoconference), or virtual office parties (where party 'care' packages are sent in advance to be opened and enjoyed simultaneously).
Provide ongoing and consistent follow-ups.
2. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
Agreements are at the cornerstone of all successful relationships and are especially critical right now. Setting up Rules of Engagement will go a long way toward mitigating thwarted expectations from both sides.
Set up your Rules of Engagement individually with team members if possible, or in a group when necessary followed by individual tweaks. Following are some of the topics to cover:
1. Establish a culture of transparency and be steadfast about it. This includes transparency from your side.
2. Gain an understanding about the level or type of guidance/supervision each team member requires. From here you can create clear expectations from both sides as well as an understanding that either party can express and manage concerns when required.
3. Undertake a policy that nothing contentious is to be sent via email or text (it needs to be via voice first).
4. Encourage remote workers to have a dedicated workspace and adequate childcare arrangements (or make alternative agreements with them if required).
5. Create a phone/video meeting etiquette guide. Not all team members will have the same level of experience in remote style communication.
6. Set up availability expectations:
Define expectations around response times to text messages, voicemails, emails, etc. How available do you expect each team member to be and when?
Be clear about when you and each of your team members will be online, and when you will not.
Haver access to each other’s calendars – transparency goes both ways.
7. Establish structured daily check-ins (one-on-one or via a team call).
Ensuring they are regular and predictable.
Create an environment where your team members can confide in you and know their concerns or questions will be taken seriously.
8. Set up a time each day (maybe an hour block), where you and all your team members keep calendars free (if possible), so that all team members are free to ask questions, and answer each other.
Whilst the technology is essential for team members to work remotely, this article focuses on the human element. However, following are some points that may assist in this area:
1. Have all team members conduct an Internet speed test to ensure they have the required bandwidth to conduct business, then manage if necessary.
2. Define specific ways to communicate in different scenarios. This is important otherwise team members will have different expectations as well as introduce multiple communication platforms that provide the same function.
3. Provide mobile-enabled individual messaging functionality like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc, for less formal or quick conversations.
4. Set up a system like Time Doctor to manage employee times to ensure accuracy of hours.
For assistance with any of the topics in this article or to organise bespoke consulting for your business, please contact Mark Evarts from TomahawkHR at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0425 731 989.
Mark has over 15 years experience in the remote management of corporate clients and over 400 team members around the globe (including Cairo, London, Prague, Washington, Mumbai, and Singapore), from his office in Melbourne.
Tomahawk can also put you in touch with services that deal in the technical aspects of remote leadership.