6 Practices for Leading a Remote Team

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When it comes to gainful employment, it’s a buyers market. Power has shifted to employees and now companies require the best from their leaders to create the conditions for high engagement.

In today’s episode, we interview Scott Miller, leadership expert and podcast host of FranklinCovey on Leadership with over 7 million downloads per week, and author of Wallstreet Journal Bestseller book, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager where he shares practices for leading a remote team.

You’re going to learn why people quit their jobs, what they are focusing on more in the post-pandemic environment, and the six critical practices for leading a team from anywhere.

Practices for Leading a Remote Team

Leaders can lead remote teams by following these six practices outlined in Scott’s book: 

  1. Develop the right leadership mindset

Ineffective Leader Mindset: Ineffective leaders have the mindset where they rush-in to save the day. These leaders feel like they need to have all the answers and jump to solutions. 

Effective: The effective leader mindset is understanding that as a leader, your role is to achieve results through other people. This is best done by using empathy.

Empathy is an important element in the mindset of leaders leading remote teams. Many people know about the Golden Rule (treat others the way you want to be treated), but leading a remote team requires the Platinum Rule (treat each person how THEY want to be treated).

Empathy includes trying to understand if your team is set up for success, and then entering every engagement with “I’m here to check in” not “I’m here to check on.” To build this mindset, deliberately spend the first 15 minutes checking in and just listening to your team. This is not a typical practice most leaders do. 

  1. Holding Regular 1-on-1’s

Leading powerful 1-on-1’s is more important in the remote setting than it is in person because as the leader, you have to focus more on connection. It’s important to have a strong structure for your one-on-one’s. 

You also need to know the answers to questions like: Who’s meeting is it really? Who does most of the talking? Spending time on prioritizing one-on-ones is a critical practice when leading a remote team. 

  1. Set up your team to get results

When it comes to leading effective remote teams, it’s important to set your team up to get the results they desire. Leaders need to clearly communicate goals that have specific conditions of satisfaction including measures, goals that specify timelines, and delegation parameters . 

  1. Create a culture of feedback

Next to recruiting and retaining talented people, the second job as a leader is to give people feedback on their blindspots. Leaders need to spend time role modeling effective ways of sharing feedback, reinforcing feedback, and asking for feedback in return.  

  1. Lead your team through change

Change is emotional; leaders need to explain “the why behind the what” and recognize not everyone will adjust to change at the same speed. 

  1. Manage your time and energy

Be a light not a judge; be a model not a critic. As a leader it’s your job to take your PTO and, in turn, encourage others to take their PTO to remain refreshed and engaged.

Company Culture with Remote Employees

Scott found that as leaders began leading remote teams, they became the lynchpins to creating cultures where people chose to stay. Leaders do not create engagement; rather, they create the conditions for others to choose their own level of engagement – whether that is high or low. 

People don’t quit jobs, they quit bad bosses and corrupt cultures

The pandemic shifted the power in the corporate world to employees who have new values and needs. Leaders must now create cultures where employees have choices.

Employees today are focusing more on quality of life, purpose, contribution, mission and legacy. People want to matter, add value,  and not be humiliated or mistreated.  And they’re speaking with their feet.

Best Practices for Hybrid Work

The best organizations are recognizing that they’re not in control.  The Covid virus keeps mutating and new variants are causing a “yo yo” effect in “return to work” plans. Often companies have announced return to office dates, and then the dates have to be changed. Smart organizations are communicating constantly, pulsing employees’ wants and needs on a regular basis, and offering flexible arrangements. Such companies are focusing more on how to get work done and providing appropriate infrastructures for new ways of working–not on where.

What surprised Scott the most over the past 18 months?

Over the past 18 months, what has surprised Scott the most is the fact that companies did not see the Great Resignation coming. At first, employees were “taken hostage” during the pandemic, with limited options to change jobs. But as soon as things began to open up, people began fleeing bad managers and corrupt cultures. Many people decided they didn’t want to be working for a company that didn’t value them – and this was brewing long before the pandemic. The pandemic merely fueled an approaching tsunami. Questions that leaders must ask now include the following: 

  • How do we make sure that our people are happy and that they are choosing a high level of engagement?
  • How do we make sure our people feel valued and that they have an esprit de corps?

Every manager and leader knows that creating an esprit de corps is even more important in a remote environment. How should leaders go about this? Of course there are protocols and legal issues, mask and vaccine mandates, and people quitting the best organizations. But leaders and managers can no longer dictate, ignore talent walking out the door, or hide behind vapid statements of cooperation and team camaraderie. 

Luckily, the smart leaders are listening, adapting, staying agile, and recognizing that they’re not in control. They’re not making big sweeping decrees. Rather, they are trusting their people. They’re working within their circle of influence and keeping employees updated. They’re learning new tools and behaviors for a totally different world of work.  

Franklin Covey News

At Franklin Covey, for example, everyone has the option to work from home or come to the office, following all safety protocols. When it comes to working at Franklin Covey, the question isn’t, “Where do you work?” Instead, the message at Franklin Covey is, “We trust you to get the work done because we have set very clear outcomes and you have clear deliverables on when and how. ‘Where’ you get them done is now your business.”

To learn more about practices for leading a remote team, download this episode now.

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Online Courses for Leaders Leading a Team From Anywhere:

Check out these online courses for remote leaders from the Team Anywhere Team.

How to Be an Effective Remote Manager | How to Build Virtual Accountability

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