Virtual Leadership Spot-Checking
By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com
“Oh where, oh where, have my team members gone….“ No, this blog post will not be set to some cheesy musical tune. This narrative pertains to your team members and your workplace - or rather, your non-workplace.
A growing trend in business is for organizations to employ remote workers. Or, in a cost-savings maneuver, to have team members work from home several days per week. On paper these strategies look great. After all, they will save the company money and give greater flexibility to team members. What could go wrong, right? Well, the fly in the ointment is the leadership component. You see, when leading virtual teams, leaders tend to fall into the trap of “out of sight, out of mind.” As such, they spend little time actually leading their remote workers. This is dangerous because team members are rudderless when they do not experience solid leadership. Without good leadership remote workers are less productive, have a warped sense of team priorities and expectations, and often work on lower impact initiatives more than higher impact initiatives. So how do we avoid virtual leadership pitfalls?
One easy way to more effectively lead your virtual team members is to use a technique I call virtual leadership spot-checking. What I mean by this is to periodically visit your team members in their remote workplace. Since you cannot just show up at someone’s home (which is usually their remote location), you will want to have a business purpose to visit your team member(s). This is easy. In addition, you may want to schedule a block of time as long as a half-day for your visit. Perhaps deliver a formal coaching session as part of your visit to the team member. However you tee up and deliver your visit, I guarantee that many benefits will result from your outreach actions. First, you will build rapport with the team member. Second, you will learn some virtual best practices that your team member employs. These can subsequently be shared with your other virtual team members. Third, if there are problems or issues you will learn about them much earlier than you would have otherwise. Fourth, you will gain knowledge regarding future training and development actions that would elevate the performance of your team member.
For those leaders who have a remote workforce that is overseas, do not worry. If getting on a plane is time or cost-prohibitive, seek to get more visual. Use webconferencing, Skype, or telepresence rooms in order to boost your visual connection with your team members.
Bottom Line: Remote workforces are a growing trend in today’s work world. Savvy leaders will hone their skills and abilities in virtual leadership in order to deliver consistent results. In this regard, get creative. Employ techniques such as virtual leadership spot-checking in order to sufficiently connect with team members, grow their skills, and keep them focused on the right initiatives. The results will keep you in the leadership spotlight and clearly differentiate your skills from your peers.
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