Better Lead Virtual Teams – A Necessary Transition
Before the COVID-19 virus hit, about 38% of U.S. small and mid-size businesses gave their employees the option of working remotely. Now, home-based work is a consequence of the shelter-at-home requirements. Everyone, employees and leaders alike, are struggling to transition to this new normal.
Employees must set up a home office, manage their own work schedules, and juggle additional childcare and home-making responsibilities. Leaders must contend with productivity problems, technical issues, workflow disruptions, maintaining the desired culture, and keeping their employees engaged and connected to their teams.
The Research Behind Employee Engagement
Keeping employees focused on their jobs and committed to the team and the business is not easy when you’re working remotely. But it is critical to maintain business growth and productivity.
- Disengaged employees correlate to 12% lower profits, 19% lower operating income, and 28% lower earnings per share.
- Engaged employees correlate to 18% greater productivity, 12% higher customer satisfaction, and 51% less voluntary turnover.
Leaders need to do all they can to connect with their employees in a meaningful way whether face-to-face or virtually.
4 Research-Backed Tips to Better Lead Virtual Teams
Here are four tips from employee engagement training best practices that work to better lead virtual teams:
- Maintain Frequent and Open Communication
You may not be able to drop in as you used to when you were onsite with your employees. But you can continue regular virtual meetings and be available at certain hours for any team member to call with concerns or issues. And, of course, you must hold regular one-on-one meetings with your team to check in that all is well.
- Ensure Easy Connectivity
You need everyone on the same page – that means on the same technology platform and with the same apps that promote easy connections. You may need to provide these along with the training to use them effectively.
Become familiar with virtual meeting technology so you can take full advantage of team meetings. When team members can see and hear each other, they will be far more engaged and accountable.
- Use Multiple Communication Channels
Be creative with how you share work and news. Consider an employee newsletter or a TGIF get-together on Zoom just for fun. Here is a list of common tools being used at our clients:
Collaboration tools like MS Teams, Slack and Huddle
Project Management tools like MS Project, Basecamp, and Smartsheet
File Sharing tools like Dropbox, SharePoint, and Google Drive
Meeting tools like Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype, and Google Hangouts
Scheduling tools like Calendly and Doodle
Social Networking tools like Yammer, Chatter, and Jive
- Get Virtual Meetings Right
In-person meetings are difficult enough to get right. Harvard Business Review reported that
35% of executive level meetings are unproductive and that 73% admit that they use meeting time to do other work. It seems like 100% use virtual meeting time to multi-task.
So follow meeting best practices. Even if you have distributed an agenda in advance, be clear at the beginning why you are meeting and what you hope to accomplish. It is best to establish a protocol for how people are to contribute and then be sure to invite thoughts from those employees who are less assertive in sharing their opinions.
Start and end the meeting on time; but before you close, be sure there are no lingering questions. Perhaps allow for an exchange of personal news that must substitute for a chance encounter at the water fountain. And re-cap with any decisions made and action items along with who is responsible and when.
The Bottom Line
Virtual teams will be the new norm – at least for the foreseeable future. Are you doing all you can to keep your team focused and engaged?
To learn more about how to better support remote teams at work, download 10 Tips to Overcome the Top Virtual Team Challenges