By Michael Holland –

In what feels like a quick moment, we are in an alternate world.

Suddenly, we need to pivot and flex our leadership muscles to become full-time virtual leaders as the Governors ordered companies to have employees work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The leadership context and environment you’ve been so comfortable with has dramatically changed.

Here are some of thoughts for you as you work to lead well as a virtual leader in this dynamic season.

Build New Routines for Yourself

You’re leading from a new physical space and your employees are in new work environments.  You need to awaken your brain to think differently about your daily rhythm and not be on autopilot.

Use daily time blocking to develop a plan for how you will invest your time.

Think through the week ahead and create time blocks for key activities, like additional check-in calls with your employees.

Adjust Cadence/Tone of Your Communications

Your employees may not be used to communicating on Zoom, Skype (or whatever video conferencing tool you may be using) and/or conference calls with multiple people.

There’s new etiquette they may need to learn.

You should to be keenly aware of your own style, cadence of communicating and be listening more intently.

Measuring Progress

How will you determine if your team is making progress?

The formal and informal tools/techniques/data collection you previously used may not be available or may not yield the information you need.

Reflect each day on what was achieved by your team while analyzing momentum.

Trust Employees Are Working

This is critical: You must trust that your employees are working.

Just because you can’t see them or see the movement of work does not mean work is not getting done.

Your employees are good people. The ones that aren’t working hard are the same ones who weren’t working hard before the pandemic.

Be Flexible

You have more time in your day sans commuting.  And at times during the week you will be more productive than you were in your normal work environment.

Be flexible with your time as you work through your day and be open to mixing up some things.  Go ahead and walk the dog at 10:15 am because you can and it’s a good break.

Be Understanding of the Physical Environment

Employees are now sitting in spaces that may not have been designed for 7 hours of work.

There are new sounds and maybe distracting partners who are working remotely as well. There may be kids schooling remotely.

B4CP – before COVID-19 pandemic – you could control the environment for your employees to create a decent workspace. Now you can’t even visualize their full work environment.

Sure, you might see a snippet of the space in the video feed but you can’t see/feel/smell all that they must deal with.

Routines for Your Employees

Just like you, your employees should establish new routines for their remote work.

And you are the one to coach them up on establishing the routines.

Communicate More Than You Want To

Your employees are missing out on the unexpected running into each other on the way to here and there.

They will get lonely, even those who are initially enjoying the peace and quiet.

Establish and religiously keep your one-on-one meetings and be sure to include information on how the organization is doing.

And be sure to ask if they have what they need to perform their jobs.  That’s worth repeating, make sure to ask if they have what they need to perform their jobs.

This is the time when you will earn your stripes in real people leadership. And this is an excellent opportunity for you to reflect on how different leadership behaviors and strategies are having an impact.

It’s time for you to Lead Well.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What has impacted you the most as you’ve been leading remotely?
  • How much time are you saving without a commute?  What are ways you can leverage that time?  Connect with a peer leader and compare your answers.
  • Do you have trouble trusting that your employees are working hard while remote?  Why or why not?

Learn to Lead Well

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