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Leading Remote Teams in 2021

Feb 25, 2021

Before the pandemic, most leaders hadn’t had experience leading remote teams. Now, most of us are working remotely, with no clear end in sight. Not surprisingly, plenty of companies plan to work remotely even when life returns to normal.

With remote work's unique challenges, leaders are still struggling with how best to oversee their employees. Yet even without the advantage of face-to-face interactions and the connections you make in the office, you can build a productive and communicative team. Here are four helpful strategies for leading remotes teams in 2021:

1. Trust your team

Without the ability to keep an eye on your employees, it’s easy to let your mind wander. You may see one of your employees has been idle on chat for longer than usual and you may doubt whether or not they are getting any work done.

You’re not alone—in fact, according to a 2020 study by Harvard Business Review, 38% of managers believe that remote employees perform worse than employees in the office and 22% of managers weren’t sure. Yet a 2020 study by Owls Labs found that 75% of employees were just as productive, if not more so.

Trust your employees unless they give you reason not to. Most likely, you hired them because they're trustworthy and hard-working. While it may be tempting to check in with employees more than usual or partake in other forms of micromanagement, employees will start to sense your distrust, causing frustration and decreased morale.

2. Hold 1:1 meetings

While working remotely has its perks, it can also be isolating. Employees are missing that connection to their co-workers that they’d get every day at the office. As a manager, holding 1:1 meetings weekly or biweekly can help you check in to see how your team is holding up. It also gives your employees the chance to talk about their accomplishments or share any areas where they could use additional support. 

3. Encourage fun conversation within your team

Even though you're not in the office, your team can still build work relationships. One solution: Zoom happy hours (optional, of course). If video-call burnout is a concern—and it probably is—encouraging fun, friendly conversation in a designated Slack or Teams channel can be an effective yet low-pressure way for teammates to connect.

4. Be open to feedback

Getting criticism from your employees can be scary, but it’s vital to continue to improve on the way you lead—especially when you consider the learning curve that comes with remote management. Feedback can open your eyes to where your employees are struggling and need support. Feedback can also highlight what is working well, allowing you to continue to strengthen these areas even more.

If you’re concerned you won’t receive honest feedback, an anonymous employee survey can help you receive get the answers you need to improve your leadership style.

Improve your remote leadership skills today

Honing your leadership skills improves company culture, productivity, employee engagement and your own confidence. If you're looking to develop your remote leadership skills, I encourage you to reach out to me today

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