Leading in Challenging Times
Tips for Leading Remote Teams
& Staying Connected
Today’s professional workplace has changed quite a bit recently. We live in a world where entire economies can be impacted by as little as a tweet. Information is available at our fingertips and organizations are making decisions based on events that may have happened hours or even minutes earlier. When a crisis or pandemic hits, organizations are forced to react quickly to develop a plan. Employees will look to their leadership in difficult times.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for today’s leaders. I have had the opportunity to open a branch office during this time which gives me a unique perspective on the meaning of leadership in difficult times. I started my new role right as the pandemic hit and right from that start I am leading a remote workforce. I have led through difficult situations in the past, however in this current case I have spent more time observing other great leaders and have learned quite a bit from them. Below is a combination of tips that have helped me continue to be the best leader I can as well as some things I have observed recently from other leaders.
- Focus on What You Can Control – You cannot control the outcomes of an actual crisis; however you can control how you react. Developing a plan to mitigate risk is always a good idea. Once you have a plan in place it is time to communicate the plan and lead accordingly. Many leaders tend to get stuck in the operation detail or deep in the mitigation plans and don’t come up for air. That’s a missed opportunity.
- Stay Positive – Find a bright side. Most leaders will have to deal with a crisis at some point and it’s important to make the best out of a difficult situation and communicate the positive to those around you. You have the capability to set a positive tone for your remote team and that can make a big difference in their lives.
- Stay Active – Go for a walk or find a way to be active. This has been proven to increase mental wellbeing. If exercise is not part of your normal routine, now is a great time to start.
- Accomplish a Personal Goal – Build a table, clean the garage, plant something, cook a meal, clean the house, learn a new language. Accomplishing a personal goal can be gratifying and can keep your spirits up.
- Be Patient – Crisis will disrupt routines and divert focus from a typical workday. Leaders can get frustrated when they cannot control a situation and tend to worry about the outcome. Worrying about the outcome will not change the outcome, but it will have a negative impact on you as a leader. Remember – it will pass!
- Continue Networking – Now is great time to reach out to others in your network. Reaching out to clients, former colleagues, and friends who can give you different perspectives and new ideas for ways to be positive and lead in challenging times. It also goes a long way to check in on people and see how they are doing. They will remember you for that action. Your efforts will not go unnoticed.
- Managing Remote Employees – It is important to stay connected when managing remote workers. One-on-one meetings are more important than ever during a crisis. Focus on the important tasks and give some reprieve on the less important or urgent tasks. Talk doesn’t have to be all about business. Ask how they are doing. Talk about personal goals and projects. Be human.
- Get Creative – Think of creative ways to stay connected to people around you. Recommend podcasts, share music playlists, send out fun surveys, etc.
Things to Avoid
- Limit Social Media – It is good to stay informed however social media can tend to be negative. Spending time away from your computer and phone can relieve stress and negativity.
- Avoid Getting Frustrated – If your colleagues see visible frustration, they will sense that things are bad. The best leaders stay calm and collected in even the worst situations. Leaders can have a tremendous impact on those around them, it’s a time to shine and keep everyone calm.
– Jason Stamper, Branch Manager [Tulsa, OK], Brindley Engineering