By: Carson Tate
The way we work has changed; so has your workfoce.
Offices are empty.
Kitchen tables, sofas and card tables are the new work cubicle.
Interactions with employees, vendors, and clients are completely virtual. Zoom is now the corporate conference room.
To lead a high-performance team in a remote work environment requires a different type of leader, a B.R.A.V.E. leader.
B – Be specific.
“Stop boiling the ocean and give me a 20,000 foot view on your deck since I have a hard stop before my SME touch base EOD…” Ambiguous communication undermines individual and team performance. Leaders of virtual teams must be specific when they communicate strategic priorities and goals. You know you have been specific when your communication passes the “champagne test” – your team knows when to pop the cork and celebrate the successful achievement of the goal.
R – Focus on results.
Are you focused on “work” or results? “Work” wastes your team’s time and energy. Results drive revenue, innovation, and customer retention. A leader with a results-oriented approach asks their team to execute on projects that generate a return on time and energy investment. Determine the qualitative and quantitative outcomes for each of your strategic objectives. And clearly communicate to your team what they need to think or do differently to produce these results.
A – Ensure accountability.
What do you do when you receive an email with two or more names in the TO: field? Read it quickly and move on to the next email in your inbox? Of course. It’s unclear who is responsible for responding to the sender’s request. So, you don’t respond because no one is accountable.
When you delegate a project to your team, precisely identify who has the “A” or is accountable for the successful completion of the project. Then ask yourself the following questions to ensure there is a clear understanding of what is expected by everyone on your team:
- Is there a clear division of tasks?
- Does each team member understand their specific task?
- Does each team member know the process for reporting issues and results?
- Are the deadlines clear?
- Do you have a tool to support and maintain accountability? For example, dashboards, checklists, scorecards and regular, consistent check-ins?
Your virtual team has fewer opportunities to spontaneously interact and coordinate work. It is important to support and provide frequent and explicit opportunities for communication and project coordination.
V – Value the individual.
How often do you start your team meeting by asking everyone to share how they are doing, what they’re watching on Netflix or some other type of personal information? And does everyone participate with the same level of enthusiasm and energy? Of course not. Because we all think, communicate, and relate differently.
To effectively lead in a virtual world requires that you value the individuals on your team and know how each person on your team wants you to communicate and interact with them.
In any company, you will have four types of work styles.
- Logical, analytical, linear, and data-oriented
- Organized, sequential, planned and detailed oriented
- Supportive, expressive, and emotionally oriented
- Big picture, integrative and ideation-oriented
Your logical, analytical team members want you to focus on data and the facts. Be brief, succinct, clear, and precise. Think through your ideas in advance and present them in a logical format. If you send an email, keep it short.
Your organized, plan-focused team members want you to stay on topic, avoid digressions, present your ideas in a sequential, organized manner and provide detailed timelines. If you send an email, use bullet points, clearly state next action steps and due dates.
Your supportive, expressive team members want the conversation to be informal, open, and warm and have no hidden agenda. If you send an email, include a salutation and connect with them personally before you transition to the topic of the email.
Your strategic, integrative team members want you to communicate with minimal details, provide the big picture with visuals and metaphors, and articulate how the project aligns with the organization’s strategy. They prefer an overview and broad conceptual framework, so limit the details. If you send an email, avoid too many details.
E – Empower your team.
Empower your team and set them up for success.
- Have you defined their limits of authority? What decisions can they make independently? What decisions require your input? Have you ensured they have the necessary authority to complete the assignment or project?
- What resources are available to them? Do they have access to these resources? If they need to work with another division or department in the company, do they have a contact person?
- What are the communication guidelines and frequency? What is the cadence for project updates? How will these be communicated? What type of communication do you expect if there is a problem?
- What is the deadline for completion?
Ambiguity, busywork, and excessive task and project coordination undermine morale, engagement, and performance. You will elevate your team’s performance when you communicate clearly, focus on results, develop a culture of accountability, value the individual strengths of your team members, and set them up for success.