Leading in a virtual environment: Some lessons from the first week of working from home:

5 things for a leader to think about when working remotely.

1 How do you look? 

    • You are ‘at work’ so think about what people can see in the background of your video call – it can be distracting or send subliminal mixed messages. Microsoft Teams has an option to automatically blur the background so people can focus on your face, Zoom allows you to add a plain or uploaded background to your call.
    • Wear your typical work clothes on a video call to give a familiar impression to your team
  • What do you say?
    • Run virtual meetings to a familiar pattern, avoid everything sounding like a crisis – don’t induce panic
      • chair the meeting with more direction than normal to keep everyone focused
      • use a clear agenda and encourage preparation to keep everyone focused
    • Take control of the meeting – keep people on subject and ensure everyone has a chance to speak
    • At a time of uncertainty don’t be afraid of admitting what you don’t know but try to keep this bounded – and help to reassure people by talking about what you can control as a team
  • How do I lead my team?
    • One to one meetings are more important than ever – keep to an agreed schedule and hold them by video call rather than mobile phone if possible to allow more expression and to help you pick up on emotional responses
    • Take more time than to listen to your team members – how are they dealing with the change – what might push their buttons
    • Be practical – leaders are about more than just listening – they are about doing too – have a series of practical suggestions that you can offer in a consistent way
    • Use your own experience – how are you keeping focused – what are the important tasks that you are investing time in
    • Find and share small pleasures – good news stories – tales of small action having positive impact
  • How do I influence stakeholders?
    • Set up new communication mechanisms that can work smoothly for the months ahead
    • Be positive and look for opportunities in the crisis – remember the old Chinese saying that in Crisis there is both Danger and Opportunity
    • Keep to a project schedule
    • Be professional, don’t get drawn into a spiral of despair, share lessons
  • How do I measure my own and my team’s performance?
    • Any previous sets of performance metrics may well have been overtaken by events but that doesn’t mean all measurement is out of the window
    • Create a quick balanced scorecard for the week – and then the month ahead.
      • In that period what would success look like in terms of: Finances; Operations; Customer contact; Staff / Self-care;
    • Check your team’s emotional state
      • Review after video calls – what’s not being communicated effectively in the new media yet – are we only talking task and missing out on informal and personal communications

Ask for feedback on what you are doing the leader in the new arrangements and set some metrics for yourself as result.