The management of remote and virtual teams is more common in the modern world and particularly in the current challenges we are facing globally with COVID-19.
Working from home/remotely has become something that has had to be adopted across many businesses – and very quickly. There has been minimal time to prepare for this and in a lot of cases, businesses that did not have employees working from home were not set up/equipped with systems or the knowledge to have their teams working remotely.
This has meant the fast implementation of new software and home set-ups to ensure their teams can be just as effective remotely as they would be in the office environment. This has also meant that managers have had to adapt to this new way of managing, some of which may have never had to manage this way before.
By the pure nature of having remote and virtual teams, your physical contact with your individual team members is restricted and often very periodic. With this in mind, the need for constant communication is essential, both from a professional and personal approach – as a manager you have a requirement to ensure that your remote and virtual teams are carrying out their responsibilities effectively but you also have a duty of care to them to ensure that you are aware and supportive of mental and physical wellbeing.
When in an office environment, this is much easier to detect when you can physically see someone and therefore something to be more aware of when catching up with your team members. In the absence of this face to face interaction, the introduction of video calls can be a great addition as you will still be able to see you team members and keep that rapport as much as possible and notice any visible signs of struggle.
All communication is imperative to make sure your team remain motivated and focussed on their tasks and goals.
When outlining these tasks and goals with your remote and virtual teams, clear guidelines, actions and measurable results need to be in place so that all parties are aware of what needs achieving and how it is intended to be achieved.
When considering what approaches you can implement as a leader and manager of remote and virtual teams it is fair to say that not all approaches would be most effective in these circumstances. There are three leadership styles (REF2) that are viewed as most applicable when managing remote teams.
- Transformational Leadership implements a supportive and nurturing approach. By being a transformational leader, you aim to inspire and motivate your team encouraging collaboration between individuals to meet a common goal.
- Transactional Leadership focuses more on goals and output. As the name implies, as a transactional manager you reward and punish based on the completion of tasks and objectives within a set deadline.
- Situational Leadership encompasses both transformational and transactional leadership, using the approach that best fits the situation at hand. As a manager operating under situational leadership, you are adaptable and flexible in your management style, relying on you assessing a situation and applying the approach needed.
Ultimately, your role as a manager and a leader is to keep your team motivated and performing. Adjusting your style across the three leadership styles to meet the needs and requirements of the business at any given time ensures you and your team are delivering the most efficient work practises and results to the best of everyone’s abilities.
Would love to hear your thoughts, and of course, if you are looking to grow your team, please do give me a call!