The dawn of virtual leadership is upon us, driven by the global COVID-19 crisis and supported by the constant innovation in business technology. Whether you were forced to send your employees home during the pandemic or if you’ve decided to lead a decentralized workforce because you realize the benefits of remote work, though, there is no denying that you’re dealing with a major business change. After all, you and your employees are no longer working under the same roof, so you can expect communication and collaboration to start to suffer if you don’t act proactively.
This is the time to show off your leadership skills (and refine them if need be) in order to retain operational efficiency, nurture your company culture, and ensure the success of your remote teams. Remember, your employees are counting on you. With all of that in mind, let’s delve deep into the common problems that leaders are facing right now and how you can overcome these obstacles by combining leadership skills with mission-critical tools and software.
Take personalization seriously
First and foremost, now that your employees are working remotely, you have to be mindful of the unique challenges they are facing. No longer are they able to take comfort in the fact that your office is right around the corner, or that their colleagues are at their side to help them on a moment’s notice, so pressure and stress start to build up. This can lead them to their breaking point over the long term if left unmanaged, but in the short term, it can impact their performance, satisfaction, and produce feelings of fatigue and burnout.
Needless to say, you have to prevent this at all costs, which is why you need to take a more personalized approach to employee management. Be sure to schedule some one-on-one time with your team members and let them know that you’re available to talk about work and any issues they might be experiencing. Once you have identified the problem, it’s important that you craft a tailored plan for that employee in order to accommodate their unique needs to improve their productivity and happiness in the digital workplace.
Invest in a reliable project management tool
Technology has made remote work a reality, and a comfortable one at that. While we will point out the importance of communication tools in a bit, at this moment we’ll emphasize the need to introduce a project management tool into your operation. You might have been able to run your business without a PM tool up until now, but a remote workforce elevates the need for this type of technology. It’s also imperative for you as the leader to improve your project management skills to maximize the potential of the software and your employees.
Project management software is crucial for improving collaboration and keeping all work on a centralized digital platform. As a leader, you’re tasked with deploying this software and ensuring that all employees are properly trained in its use so that your company can maximize its potential. Make sure that the tool provides you with workflow visualization, tracking and monitoring tools, analytics, file management features, and more.
Improve internal and external communication with VoIP
Another piece of technology that is paramount to longer business success, especially when you’re managing remote teams, is VoIP. Voice over internet protocol is a cloud-based phone system that allows you to communicate with your employees and customers from all over the world without breaking the bank. That said, low-cost calls are just one of the features you should be looking for.
For example, the popular Nextiva VoIP package, which is one of the top brands in the field, integrates many other tools like mobile optimization and a dedicated app, conferencing and video calls, virtual assistants, analytics, forwarding, and transcription, and it integrates with other software you’re using. When you’re researching VoIP providers, be sure to compare prices with their plans to find the right balance between features and fees.
Develop your communication skills
Aside from having a tool that allows you to communicate with employees and customers, you also need to develop your communication skills as a leader along with your project management skills. After all, technology can only do so much to boost collaboration or help you generate quality leads. You will need to personalize your one-on-one communication as we talked about before, but you will also need to perfect your video conferencing skills when you’re talking to an entire team.
Make sure to work on your soft skills and pay attention to how you gesticulate. Remember that people can only see what’s in the frame of your camera. What’s more, it’s important to remember that you’re no longer talking in person, meaning that people might have a difficult time keeping up. Be sure to enunciate and slow down just a bit while making frequent pauses to ensure everyone’s keeping pace with the conversation.
Nurture a positive company culture
Last but not least, one of the biggest challenges when managing a remote workforce is keeping the company culture alive. Now that people are working from home, they might start feeling detached from the collective and the brand itself, which can negatively impact performance, satisfaction, and talent retention.
Your employees are expecting you to help nurture the culture you have built and rally your troops even when you’re working remotely, so it’s important to communicate frequently and schedule time for non-work-related talk. You can even schedule online team-building events like playing online games together, hosting a movie night, sharing your favorite photos and videos of the day, and such. Get creative and inspire your team members to keep their unit strong.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the modern business sector on its head, but that doesn’t mean that you should just sit by and watch as the fate of your company unravels. Instead, you need to use your leadership skills to create a strong strategy for remote work, integrate the right tech, and empower your employees to achieve better results together.