How do you lead a team remotely when it's new to your company? With the Covid 19 virus changing our world overnight, it's essential that all employees that possibly can work remotely, begin doing so immediately. This new landscape creates different challenges for many leaders that have never managed a virtual workforce. Without the right tools and techniques, it's easier for things to spiral out of control in a virtual workplace. Here are some of the methods that have a proven record of consistently, innovation, and profitability.
Daily Standup Meeting
Start every day with 'standup.' This meeting includes everyone at the company, which is compulsory (and if in person would be done with the entire team standing). We break our standup into two parts; the first is the team updating what's new and exciting in our industry. It is a popcorn format where anyone that has something worth sharing has a voice to the entire organization. This part of standup facilitates the distribution of knowledge efficiently while sparking new ideas throughout the organization as a whole. The second part of standup is all about accountability while keeping your pulse on how everyone is performing in a few short minutes. Everyone answers three questions:
1 - What did you complete yesterday?
2- What are you working on today?
3- Are you blocked by anything that will stop you from completing today's tasks?
The answer to the first question should align with what they said they would complete the previous day. It is your responsibility to make sure the work is done and done well. Paying attention to everyone's daily progress is the first step in holding your remote team accountable. As the leader, you must be engaged and tracking progress. A task that should take a couple of hours should not be 'almost done' for multiple days. If a team member has consistent excuses for not completing the task, see question number three.
The second question gives clarity around where everyone is spending their time today with them committing to what will get accomplished. You also have transparency into how the different team members' efforts align, which decreases redundancy and increases collaboration.
The third question removes any potential roadblocks that could prohibit an employee's task from being completed. If someone needs help, the team can step in to provide support. Maybe they are blocked because of dependency from another team member. All of these issues are resolved at the start of the day when everyone is together.
With the plethora of options for collaborative communication tools that exist today, I recommend two essential methods for effective virtual communication. The first is to have a single tool that everyone uses. I prefer Slack at my businesses, but it could be whatever technology you prefer. A few features that I like with Slack is the ability to create groups, ease of file sharing, and intuitive interface. I can see who active or offline at any time. If your team is working during the day, they will be able to respond to your communication quickly. The second recommendation is to have a protocol around communication so that nothing is lost. Here is what we use:
Slack - Real-time communication between teams and individuals
Email - Detailed or robust internal discussions and sales communications
Zoom - Internal and client video meetings/presentations
Basecamp - Any tasks, file sharing, and client communication