Managing expectations and holding your team accountable can be challenging at best. Throw in a virtual world to navigate as well and you may be overwhelmed. The Virtual Hub describes a simple process of
- Defining expectations
- Measuring success
- Communicating expectations
- Setting realistic expectations
In addition to those steps, there is also the ‘relationship’ side of this issue. You normally would see your team in the office, swing by offices to check-in, briefly chat at the coffee station, or set up a one on one in your office. What do you do virtually?
You set the focus and example.
Whether your entire team is new to the virtual office, or just one team member, know that your entire team is watching you. As the leader, you set the tone and culture trickles down. So think about how you want to be perceived. What do you want your people to say about you and your leadership? Let that drive your example as a leader both in an office and virtually.
- Do you embrace the virtual tools or do you curse them at every turn?
- Does everyone participate in video conferences and are all given the space to contribute?
- Are you fully present during virtual meetings without distractions or interruptions?
- Do you respect everyone’s time by providing a meeting agenda and beginning and ending on time?
Ensure you are exhibiting the same behavior that you expect of your team. They’ll follow your example.
Provide consistent, reliable connection points.
Whether your meetings are daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, ensure they are consistent with the needs of your team member and regular. Some may need more frequent touchpoints while your most seasoned team members are happy with a monthly check-in. The topics for your connection points can be various.
- Make a concerted effort to stay on each other’s radar.
- Discuss workload, tasks, priorities, challenges, and accomplishments.
- Ask Questions:
- What were your wins this week?
- Where do you need my help?
- How would you rate my support for you this week on a scale of 1-10?
- What would I need to do to make it a 10?
The important thing to remember is that these connection points are directed to the needs of the team member. They are not just accountability checks. Use them to determine how you can best support the success of your team member and ask for feedback. This builds trust and sets the tone for continuous feedback overall.
Give feedback and recognition regularly.
There’s nothing more valuable to a team member, yet inexpensive to a leader as to say “Thank you” or “Good job”. You’ll need to look for opportunities with a virtual team, as quick pats on the back aren’t as easy as those immediate office interchanges. Make it a routine activity for team members to recognize each other and make notes for yourself when you notice good performance.
Vulnerability is a beneficial leadership trait. Let your team know what’s different for you since being virtual. What are you challenged with? Sharing your own challenges with the virtual environment in a positive way creates connection and empathy with your team.
Keep your calendar up to date and make yourself available. Since you are out of sight, don’t be out of mind. Make it easy for your team to communicate with you. Let them know the best communication vehicle as well. Is it a phone call, e-mail, or text? No matter which, ensure that you follow through when they use your preferred method. There’s nothing worse than a leader insisting that text is the best way to reach him, yet he doesn’t reply or acknowledge it for days (if ever). That’s one of the fastest ways to decrease morale and engagement.
Embrace the benefits of being a virtual team. Productivity can improve, commute time decreased, life balance enhanced, and money can be saved. And above all, say Thank You.