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Leading remote workers is different - relationship-building tips

Managing remotely is different. If you’ve always worked in the same physical location along with your team, or even with some of your team remote, you might be feeling the challenges of working apart during this current world pandemic. By now you’ve worked through the day to day issues, technical challenges, and workspace set up questions with your teams, but you may still be figuring out how to best manage and motivate them from home. Here are some remote leadership tips to help you maintain your relationship and make it even stronger while working at home:

Don’t start micromanaging

Because you can’t see your team working, you will have to track productivity through other means. But setting up too many check-ins, video calls, reports, and random skype messages will exhaust your team. It is a good time to trust your team and set measurable goals and reasonable check-ins. Talk with your team to understand their individual communication needs and use those to guide your schedule. Understand the usual goals may shift during this period as people adjust to different technology and constraints. Your flexibility will help your team stay confident and get back on track faster.

Make time for social connections

Provide an outlet for your team to have fun together. Jump on the virtual happy hour train, or try virtual coffeetime, book club, exercise club, or cooking club… Trivia, themed chats, jokes, or break the ice games can be fun with a group. As a leader you can be the one to set up the event and provide the forum – it may not be enough to suggest it to your team, you may need to lead it for a while.

Take breaks

You are your most important asset. Take care of your own needs in order to help others (remember the rule about putting on your own mask before helping others? Same idea). You can only stay on “high alert” for so long before it catches up to you. Take breaks before you crash – naps, walks, fun entertainment, meditation, whatever your thing is that you can safely practice now, do it! Staying healthy must be a priority for us all right now, and your positive outlook will lift your team.

Mental health

Check in on your team’s mental health. It can be easy to start looking at your team more in terms of their metrics when you don’t see them every day, but remember they are also dealing with lots of disruption and change. Taking time to reach out and see how they’re doing will let you know if there’s something you can do to help. Can you offer a resource, a break, an ear? This helps keep you grounded and connected, which is something both you and your team need.

In the end, remember

Most people go to work wanting to do a good job. It’s helpful to remember that and to ascribe positive intentions to other people’s behavior. We tend to see the positive in our own intentions, but negative in others (classic example – I was speeding because I needed to pick up my child but that other driver was speeding because they are a terrible driver and bad person). This is an attribution bias, and remembering it can often be enough to overcome being persuaded by it. Remembering the bias and that idea that most people are trying to do a good job can shift your mindset to allow you to give people some flexibility and empathy.

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