How to Lead a Remote Team
To be able to answer the question - how to lead a remote team - it’s necessary to know how to lead a team in general. The person of a leader is one of the most important reasons why employees change their jobs. This fact alone shows how important this role is for the individual employee but also the entire team.
Being a leader means not only having the position in the structure, but above all, it’s about the attitude towards other people. This attitude includes several traits and behaviors that characterize good leaders. In this article, we talk about everything that’s needed to become a great leader in your organization.
Know your team and its members
If you want to be a good leader, first of all, it is worth getting to know yourself and your team. Strengths, but also areas that the leader and his employees should develop. This will facilitate the adequate distribution of responsibilities and roles and set goals for the entire team and individual employees.
It is also worth learning about your own strengths and limitations. Thanks to this, the leader will be aware of his reactions, reasons for decisions, or attitudes he presents to the team. He should also know his management style. Information about the characteristics of a given management style will allow you to understand the mechanisms that are happening in the team. It will also allow you to consciously choose tools related to people management. Being a good leader means being good at communication with other people, you have to understand everyone on your team.
In a leadership role, motivating a team is an essential skill. Each employee is motivated by something different, so it's worth starting by understanding the needs of all team members. Thanks to this, it will be possible to motivate every employee differently, the way that suits them best.
This will increase the engagement of employees in their daily duties, but will also have a positive impact on the level of initiative on their part. As part of motivating employees, the aspect of giving them regular feedback is also important. This will positively affect the transparency of communication in the team, maintain a good atmosphere, but also provide employees with clear information about the leader's expectations regarding their work.
There will be drops in motivation, that’s certain, but a good leader will notice that and do everything to support the employee. In a remote environment, it’s harder to notice problems, but it’s possible. If your soft skills are on a high level, and you know your team then you will feel that someone needs help.
Develop yourself and your team
Equally important as motivating is the continuous acquisition and updating of knowledge, developing yourself and your employees. Development means many different activities, such as taking part in training, obtaining certificates, learning new competencies, but also sharing knowledge with others.
It is worth encouraging employees to undertake development activities. It is also important to plan the development path together with him. This will increase the effectiveness of employees, and, consequently, the quality of their work. They will also have a positive impact on maintaining a high level of employee motivation and commitment. Opportunity for development is one of the main factors that are most important in terms of job attractiveness.
A good leader should also take care of their own development and expand or update their competencies so that they remain at a high level. Times change, people change and their needs change too, a good leader needs to change as well. Gen Z is part of the workforce and managing a team of 20-year-olds is different from managing a team of 30-year-olds. It is important to understand them and develop your skills accordingly to the needs of the team.
Challenges of leading a remote team
It is always challenging for every leader to perform on the highest possible level in all of the mentioned areas. It becomes even more difficult without direct contact with the team. Yet here we are - working remotely, which changes the way of providing leadership.
The biggest challenges are caused by the lack of face-to-face interactions. It may influence many aspects of managing the team. One of them is the area of supervision. It relates to the level of efficiency, the productivity of team members. But also, on the other hand, to the level of support from the manager’s side.
The other challenge which remote work gives to the managers is in the area of information flow. Waiting for the answer after asking a question, sharing knowledge, updates about the project. It requires new methods of management to be still effective. Also, the area of relationships between team members will be a crucial issue for the leader to deal with. Working at home may also cause a new difficulty for the team, which are distractions at home. The kid who calls the parent. The pet that jumps on the laptop. Lack of a comfortable chair. Working on a bed the whole day. All of these situations may make it difficult to remain efficient.
How to deal with these challenges
The new challenges create new solutions. There are some good routines or practices which are worth bringing into the team. Regular calls with the team will be a good solution for the communication issues - like exchanging updates, sharing knowledge, and talking about problems. It will ensure the proper information flow, but also will make it possible to give regular feedback and provide the team with the necessary support.
During video calls, it is possible to consult more issues in a shorter time, compared to the email exchange. Moreover, video calls would help with keeping social contact between the members and will lower the feeling of being isolated. To have even more contact, like in the office, you can jump on a call and work on different things together, for example, a presentation or a plan for the next week. We recommend you make use of the SCRUM Methodology and have daily stand-ups where you plan the day with the team. In the matter of taking care of social interactions, it’s also good to reserve some time for non-work items - for example after the team calls.
A great way to build good relations inside the team is to organize dedicated events like virtual parties. These activities will positively impact relationships between team members and their sense of belonging to the team and company. It’s not as good as parties where everyone can meet, but it’s a nice alternative if the team is spread across the world.
There are many tools for managers, which help them to provide a high level of leadership. However, even the basic communication tools, like Zoom, Slack, Google Meet will be enough to secure the areas mentioned above. Some of the issues with adjusting home as an office can be also easily solved by financial support from the company’s side to buy necessary devices or equipment.
Leading a team went to the next level in the times of popularity of remote work. It created new challenges and managers must adjust to this situation. However, with new challenges come new solutions supporting leadership, which still can be effective. The most important areas of management remain unchanged. Still, leaders should primarily take care of their skills related to leading a team in general. With these skills, they will be able to lead a team the same effective way - just by using different tools.