How To Be An Effective Remote Team Leader
THE government has extended the conditional movement control order (CMCO) in Putrajaya, Selangor, and Kuala Lumpur to Nov 9. Many employees continue to work from home.
According to a KPMG survey in June, two-thirds of Malaysian workers want the work-from-home policy to continue even without Covid-19. But there are some burning questions that employers want to ask. For example:
• How do you make sure employees are communicating well remotely?
• When you don’t see your people regularly, how do you ensure what they are doing is aligned with your strategy?
• Does remote work mean employees take advantage of the flexibility because nobody sees them?
To summarise, there are three significant challenges most organizations are still struggling with when it comes to remote work, which reduced employee efficiency and team bonding.
The first challenge is the lack of alignment. As leaders, how do we create alignment across teams and departments? That means even if people are not working together physically, they are still on the same page. That’s why many leaders complain: “I know my teams are super busy, but they are not providing what I want.”
This problem becomes worse in a remote work environment when you cannot meet your employees every day.
To change this situation, you need an excellent communication structure to bring all teams and employees together.
OKR (Objective and Key Results), a goal-setting framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes, enables alignment across the organization
In May, Twitter lets its employees work from home forever. Two months later, Google lets its employees work from home until next July. Both Twitter and Google had implemented OKR to improve alignment and ensure that all employees can achieve organizational results.
Working with OKR promotes alignment across the organization. A good OKR implementation connects what employees are doing daily to the company’s long-term goal. That’s how OKR can help to create a results-driven working environment. Within this environment, employees are actively involved in achieving organizational goals no matter where they are working from.
Need for transparency
The second challenge in remote work is that accountability often gets lost in a remote work as we are not meeting with our employees daily. Those leaders who are not familiar with remote team management will feel stressed when it comes to tracking accountability. That’s why, eventually, many leaders seem to be micromanaging employees and work.
Remote leaders need transparency. Although they do not track what individual team members do and don’t do, they still need to be clear about the progress of the team’s goals, and each team member also has clarity on what everyone is working on and how they are progressing.
General Electric (GE) is a company that has been practicing transparency for decades. In GE’s performance management system PD@GE, employees can see how all the work goals are inter-related. When individuals can see how their progress contributes to the whole organizational goals, they feel closer to each other.
If your company is not ready to be as transparent as GE, you can at least practice regular checking-in meetings, which enable your managers to navigate their team performance easily.
This is because regular checking-in meetings can help a remote team establish a transparency system for their top priorities. Employees get progress updates as well as short- and long- term clarity from managers. Managers take the chance to track work from plans to reality.
The third challenge is to keep the team autonomy in remote work, but that’s super hard to do because remote work performance is no longer tied to the number of working hours. And it would be not reasonable to expect your people to work from 9 to 5 in a remote team. As we transition to the new world of work, we have to acknowledge that remote work is about results-focused team management. The good news is if we can get our employees intrinsically motivated, they are more likely to organize themselves autonomously.
According to consulting firm Gallup, employees who regularly meet with their managers are three times more engaged and motivated than their peers. Providing one-on-one coaching is one of the best ways to intrinsically motivate employees because growth is equal to happiness, especially to talents with high potential.
Successful one-on-one coaching determines what goals the employees want to achieve, what support or resources they need from managers, their problems, and their achievements. Don’t forget to give recognition to your employees because it helps them feel valued.
The Covid-19 pandemic will not be with us forever. But employees have been demanding the flexibility of the work for years. The enhanced flexibility of work that we attained by transitioning ourselves to remote work should not be reversed.