Face to face leadership is far easier than virtual leadership as you have all your attributes of Words Actions and Behaviours to influence and lead others. But when homeworking becomes the norm leadership becomes more difficult for a leader at any level.
Naturally when someone is not visible we fall back upon our worst fears that something isn’t being done or not being done correctly and we either become over controlling or loath to delegate tasks. This can erode trust between a leader and their followers. Here are some leadership tips to help leaders lead effectively virtually.
Delegate effectively: Make sure that when you set someone a task that you agree what a successful outcome looks like, also make sure you set a timescale for that outcome. Check that they understand fully what is expected of them.
Trust: Allow people the freedom in their own home to work effectively they may not necessarily be able to work at home as easily as they can in the office. Judge them on successful completion of tasks not the hours in front of a laptop!
Support: Some people like working alone and will love working from home others who need people around them will quickly become distracted. Remember to support those who need it through consistent communication and encouragement.
Communication: Establish a regular pattern of communication to stop constant disturbances and encourage those at home to make lists of things they want to talk about and to raise them during regular communication. Leave clear messages if people are not instantly available.
Virtual Tools: Use virtual tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, WhatsApp video and Facetime to communicate so it is possible to see each other, this will stop people feeling so isolated and aid collaboration.
Reporting: Use templated reports to keep up to date with what really matters. This saves time particularly when similar information needs to be shared regularly. Task individuals using virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Hubspot in order to track and sustain progress.
Positive disposition: Without regular contact some people may become down and disillusioned it is therefore important that leaders show a positive disposition and do not focus on the negatives as this will further contribute to negative feelings.
Sharing news: Particularly during crises it is important that information and news is shared promptly and effectively. Don’t let the rumour mill take hold.
Feedback: Feedback must be given promptly and at the right time but do remember feedback should be positive in intent and therefore robust feedback given without thought when support networks are less accessible and context misunderstood may have negative impact.
Remember most people are unused to working from home so they need time to adjust. However, you may find after a sustained period of homeworking that communication, focus and overall efficiency improves within your organisation.