5 Essential Tips for Leading a Remote Team

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“5 Essential Tips for Leading a Remote Team” is written by Jenni Catron. Jenni Catron is an author, speaker, and Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, where she and her team focus on cultivating healthy leaders and thriving team cultures.

Did you know over 60% of new hires are requesting flexible work schedules upon interviewing?

In the newest report from ADP Research Institute, “two-thirds (64%) of the workforce would consider looking for a new job if they were required to return to the office full time.”

While the office may still be here to stay – its function may be changing. Because interestingly enough, 87% of employees report that one of their top-rated needs is to be able to collaborate and build relationships – which typically happens in an office-type setting. 

Here are five crucial areas you can focus on to promote clarity and consistency within your organization and find success leading in a hybrid culture. 

1. Be Clear with Expectations

Expectations – you have them. Your team has them. And they likely are not the same. 

The problem occurs when we don’t articulate them. Misaligned expectations promote distrust and foster suspicion in a culture. 

As the leader, you must get clear on what you expect. 

  • Are staff meetings in person, virtual or hybrid?
  • Do you have core hours that everyone should be in the office?
  • When do you expect your team to be available when they are working remotely? 

Analyze what you really expect of your team, consider whether those expectations are realistic, and then communicate them clearly. 

Recreate the Water Cooler

Okay, maybe the water cooler is an outdated expression, but you get the idea.

Teams still need time to meaningfully connect to build relationships that foster trust, which enables them to do their work effectively. 

Your job as the leader is to create moments that spark connection:

  • Be intentional with the time that your team is in person. Consider how you can most effectively use that time for relational connection. 
  • Make video meetings engaging, not awkward. If you were in a room together, you would chat, catch up, and have fun before you dove into the agenda. Don’t be stoic on video. Have an opening question that is relaxed and fun. Create connection before you dive into the agenda.
  • Create a way to share successes and fun stuff. Without the casual hallway conversations, we miss out on the fun and frivolous parts of each other’s lives. Create a Slack channel for the fun stuff and actively be a part of it. 

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3. Set Communication Best Practices

With a hybrid team, your communication challenges are amplified. And if you’re like most teams, your communication habits probably weren’t exceptional. 

It’s time to get clear on communication.

Which tools will you use, and how will you use them? If you don’t provide this clarity, your team will default to their communication channels of preference.

For example, at 4Sight:

  • Email is for details and information that needs to be in writing and is relatively not urgent.
  • Slack is for updates, quick questions, and to celebrate the fun stuff. 
  • Text messages are for more urgent responses.
  • Phone calls are for urgent or sensitive subjects that require a conversation.

4. Lead Well

Leadership is critical to leading a successful hybrid team. Flexibility requires accountability. And it’s really challenging to hold people accountable to their responsibilities if we’re not present with them. 

Your direct reports need your time. They need you to: 

  • Commit to your 1:1 time with them.
  • Help them develop their work rhythms.
  • Give feedback regularly.

5. Connect them with Purpose

When we lack proximity, it’s easy for purpose to drift.

As the leader, you must stay focused on ways that you can keep the mission, vision, and values of your organization front and center for the teams you lead. 

Your purpose is your competitive advantage. A clear, compelling purpose will help you attract the best talent and retain the best team members. It’s your job as a leader to make that purpose clear at all times. 

  • Remember that clarity of purpose is one of your most important jobs as a leader.
  • Look for every opportunity to connect what each team member does with the organization’s mission. Connect the dots for them so that they see how they play a role in achieving the great work you do.

Every organization has been forced to pivot and find new ways to become flexible while maintaining the integrity of its mission. There’s no doubt that over the past few years strategies have had to change, and embracing a hybrid work culture is one of those new realities for many of us.

Your team is your greatest resource in helping you achieve your mission. Invest in them by providing clarity in these five areas, and you’ll build a team that is thriving and focused as they pursue a purpose together. 

If you’re looking for more practical ways to invest in the health of your staff culture, I encourage you to register for Culture Conference.  Culture Conference is a free online conference designed to help leaders build thriving teams, cultivate inspiring workplaces, and achieve your mission. This year’s speakers include Marcus Buckingham, Nona Jones, Mark Batterson, Jeff Henderson and many more.

Register for FREE here

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Every leader—myself included—knows what we need to change. But most of us get stuck on how to bring about that change.

Between the opposition, self-doubt, and unknowns, change freezes so many leaders.

  • How do you know which risks are worth taking? 
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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.

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