Do you manage a virtual team? Are some – if not many – of your team members based in other sites around the city if not around the country or even around the world?
Virtual leadership may not be hard per se. It sure takes a level of effort and discipline that isn’t required with a co-located team though. Just making the time to connect with your remote workers presents a unique challenge for many virtual leaders. The following are a few suggested business practices you might consider implementing if you haven’t already to ensure out of sight doesn’t turn into out of mind for you and your employees.
1. Email weekly/monthly “State of the Business” updates to all of your staff to inform them of key highlights and recent successes, to keep them connected across the business versus only within their specific sites, and especially to confirm you have the pulse of the organization
2. Request weekly status update email messages at the end of the week from all of your direct reports to monitor progress on primary work tasks and raise awareness for any potential issues before they become serious problems
3. Schedule consistent virtual check-ins with all of your direct reports at the beginning of each week to review those week-ending status updates, avoid never-ending games of phone tag later on, and to be present even when you may physically be apart
4. Add professional head shots or other personal photos to your corporate contact lists to “get to know” one another and create more regular visual connections
5. Start all conference calls and/or video-conferences with 2 to 3 minutes of “socializing”, asking more than just “How are you doing?” questions and instead following up on specific personal activities and current events that are important to your team
6. Visit each of your business locations in person at least once every 3-6 months and conduct not only more structured All Hands meetings with everyone but also less formal “skip level” breakfasts or lunches with your direct reports’ reports
7. And finally, ask your employees how they would like to stay connected and manage your behaviors and actions to their preferences whenever possible
It’s amazing how connected you can feel to people you may only see in person once or twice a year simply by adding some common rituals and basic structure to your existing communications. It’s all about your intention to be present and stay top of mind instead of letting out of sight actually become out of mind.