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Managing Remote Teams in a Changing World

Before our eyes, the world of work has changed in an instant. For some, this change will be temporary. For others, this will mark an evolution in the way they do business. Remote working is quickly becoming the new normal and the challenge facing us all is how do we provide the best leadership and truly connect with our virtual teams during both this precarious time and into the future? 

The answer is right in front you; either on your monitor, your phone, or embedded into your laptop – video. Embracing and utilizing video to communicate with your teams breaks down the walls of isolation and creates an environment of true collaboration.

Great leaders ELEVATE the concepts of communication and collaboration during times of stress or uncertainty. Connecting regularly with our teams helps eliminate fear, builds connection and creates strong team unity. In our everyday lives we know that relationships aren’t built via emails, instant messaging, or other social avenues. Phone calls are better, but the phone doesn’t even come close to the results that can be accomplished when we can see one another and read the body language that gives us priceless clues to the quality of our connections.

Study after study shows that a video conference creates superior learning and enhanced communication, keeps dispersed employees connected and aligned, and just allows us to gets more things done. Video conferencing is a must for leaders and the team members they lead.  Put aside your fears, pride, or anything else that is holding you back - and just DO it. 

Don’t let any of these common concerns hold you back:

  • "No one in our company does video calls" – There is no time like the present to demonstrate your leadership and step out of your comfort zone. Your teams and colleagues might resist in the beginning. That's okay, they are human, and we are wired to resist change quite a bit.  Persistence pays off, however... and soon, your teams will appreciate your leadership in helping them stay connected in ways that bring back the familiar feelings of an in-office meeting.

  • "I hate how I look on video" - In short, this isn't about you. And, it's not about how anyone looks!  It's about developing rock-solid personal connections that are just NOT possible on phone or email.  No one likes how they look on video, so push aside your resistance and, remember, this is how you look in face-to-face meetings and you do those without hesitation. The more you do it, the easier it gets.  

  • "What if I don't know how to use the technology or something goes wrong?" – Sounds like a great opportunity for you to demonstrate adaptability as you take on technical challenges and not let them stop you. Things will go wrong, and technology will hiccup. Embrace that simple fact and know that it happens to everyone. There are no mistakes if we learn and grow through our challenges… and do so together!

So, get out there and create a culture where video communication is the norm, not the exception.  For 1:1 conversation, for formal team meetings, and even to kick off the day or check in with everyone at lunch. 

Remember, you don't need to have all the answers; you just need to show that you care about your team. Leadership that resonates is all about being transparent and being willing to seek out answers whenever possible. As a leader, you set the pulse for the team and demonstrate that your organization’s strength is rooted in collaboration. 

The most important thing that remote and virtual leaders and managers can do right now is to CONNECT and keep connecting with their teams in ways that continue to build trust and collaboration – not just for these challenging times but for a more productive future!

Author: Erin Cambier, Executive Career Coach | Leadership Consultant

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