Three Strategies to Successfully Lead a Remote Team

Are you looking for a quick way to up your leadership skills around remote teams? Look no further! Here are three things you can start doing today to be a better leader by the end of the week.

Be Specific About Your Expectations

No matter what you expect from your team when they’re working remotely, always be specific.

  • Do you expect them to be available and on their computer between 8 and 5 pm? Tell them that.
  • Are you okay with them getting a later start and working into the evening? Tell them that.
  • Do you expect them to reply to your call or emails within 30 minutes? Tell them that.
  • Do you really not care when or how they work, as long as the work gets done? Tell them that.

Your team isn’t psychic. Let them know exactly what success looks like so they can do their best to deliver.

Sharing the “why” behind all assignments is especially important, as is follow up. Start with why, and schedule times to follow up on anything you delegate. Your team needs regular communication from you, which leads to the second thing you can do to become a stronger leader.


Reach Out More Than Normal

“How are you doing? No really. How are you doing?”

I overheard my (currently working from home) husband ask this of a team member today. It made me remember how important it is to check in.

I personally LOVE working from home, but I recognize that it’s not for everyone. If you’re more extraverted, seeing people each day energizes you. Sheltering in place can send you into a state of depression!

Even for the introverts, it gets old. (Not sure which one applies to you? Check out this article from Fast Company to learn more.)

As a leader, reach out and check in with your team often, and on an individual basis. I recommend you do this weekly, at minimum. Send them a quick text, get together for a virtual happy hour, and keep up those one-on-one conversations with the help of technology. My friend and former coworker Krista Johnson shared some great best practices on this one. (Check out this post for more.)


Trust Your Team to Do Their Job

 I’ve found that when leaders micromanage their team, it’s often due to a lack of trust. Yoram Solomon, PhD, founder of the Innovation Culture Institute based in Dallas, has this to say about trusting remote employees that work from home.

“If you have to track what your employees are doing when they work remotely, then you are either not a good leader, or you don’t have trustworthy employees. Either way, productivity, creativity, and effectiveness will be lower….Employees need autonomy to do their jobs the best way they know how. If you monitor them, or consider the time they are spending in front of the computer as a proxy to their productivity, you are wrong. And if they are not trustworthy, monitoring them will not increase their productivity. (To read Dr. Solomon’s full article, check out his website.)

Remember, if you explicitly lay out your expectations and communicate what success “looks like,” there should be no need to micromanage!

If your team isn’t delivering, it’s time to think about why. Do they need more training? Do they need redirection and feedback to improve? Are they the right fit for the job?

Very few employees come to work intending to fail. Great leaders help their team rise to success!


Closing Thoughts

What comes to mind when someone says, “I work from home”? Do you picture the person sleeping in until 10 am? Watching daytime TV? Eating bonbons on the couch? Until recently, a lot of people probably thought that way. No wonder so many companies refused to adopt a “work-from-home” policy.

When remote work is done well, overall productivity can actually go up while overhead expenses can go down! Embrace this change in workstyle, even if you never planned to be a remote leader.

Incorporating these leadership tips will help you and your team be more effective, productive, and happy working from home.