The nature of our business at Dale Carnegie is about people, resilience, agility, creating confidence and dealing with stress and worry. Our focus during these past months has been on supporting our customers, the communities we serve and our network of local offices around the world dealing with the fear and uncertainty of the current pandemic. The same priorities of building confidence, resilience, and overcoming stress are key to leading successful remote teams in the current situation in which most businesses find themselves.
It can be challenging in times of crisis, but there are methods leaders can use to help remote teams successfully deal with change and bounce back from setbacks, even during our very challenging current environment.
Use the Power of Communication
I cannot overstate how important communication, even overcommunication, is to effectively lead your virtual team during this period. That starts with attentive listening and being empathetic, and understanding where people are, both emotionally and mentally. Be sure you are using different platforms to maximize that communication, including video, conference calls, written communications, Microsoft Teams or Slack, text, email and individual outreach. Be transparent. Leaders need to show empathy toward both team members and customers alike. That involves listening and addressing concerns and worries as much as possible, as well as giving proactive guidance and direction.
Engage Your Virtual Teams
Many of us are experiencing a work environment that may be moving much faster and with less certainty than ever before. We are being asked by clients, managers and stakeholders to quickly assess what’s happening, make judgments, develop strategy, execute and pivot. This is the time to draw on your team’s strengths and be clear that they are vital for achieving the organization’s goals of providing value to your customers. By challenging employees to take ownership, we can lead successful virtual teams and an organization that is quick to adapt to disruptions and overcome distance in times of uncertainty.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
Dale Carnegie talked about living in day-tight compartments. There are a lot of things we could all worry about right now; you could look at the news and worry about tomorrow or what will happen a month from now. A leader’s goal should be trying to get people to tackle those urgent issues that they have control over first. Work with teams and employees on how they can maintain that focus. Where are they right now, and how can they concentrate and bring resources to bear on the task at hand? Make sure each team is aware of the other team’s goals and achievements. By focusing on the present and helping our teams do so in the same way, we can reduce employees’ stress and help them to be more effective and confident.
Rise to the Occasion
It’s easy to lead when times are easy. It’s easy to be confident when things are going well. But the opportunity and the responsibility of leadership is to step up when times are hard and uncertain and to convey reassurance and confidence. Leading begins with establishing a clear vision so everyone knows their role, and then ensuring the transparency that builds trust with your teams and throughout the organization. By communicating frequently, engaging our teams and taking one day at a time, we can not only survive, but we can thrive through the adversity we’re all facing today.