Nuances of Virtual Leadership in the Corona Era
Virtual leaders connect with remote teams and individuals to achieve goals while building trust and communicating in a manner that enables productivity and is motivating.
Leaders may delve into the possibilities of implementing activities and wellness programs within the team, that in turn will lead to a healthier and a more productive remote team.
Technology for Remote Teams.
While most of us are no strangers to technology, such as laptops, webcams and apps, there are many; who may not be comfortable working with those apps and tools like webcams, among others.
In the initial phase of the current Corona virus pandemic, employees that once worked full time in organizations; had to shift to remote working, almost immediately without any mental and technological preparation.
This made it impossible for organizations to provide for any training or guidance to cope with such a situation.
We must bear in mind, that generation gap and accessibility to basic resources play major roles in how people may adjust to the use of that technology.
The time taken to adjust to online technology, techniques of communication and its undisturbed or uninterrupted use may vary for many.
Remote leaders, must assist employees during the incubation period to help acclimatise them to remote working and interactions using technology.
Of course there are apps like Zoho, Zoom, Telegram, WhatsApp and others, that are designed to make communication as real time and seamless as possible which also explains why they were being used regularly before the pandemic situation for online/remote communication.
However, it does make a big difference for many employees, who are used to communicating face to face, as opposed to the latter.
Earlier employees, used technology only when required.
Now, they are in a situation, where this becomes the only true and possible method of communicating.
Common issues remote employees face.
For such inhibiting and seemingly overwhelming tools; using the webcam to communicate makes it rather personal.
With the right training it can give employees the confidence and comfort to work from home; while still feeling like they are interacting in the way they’d like to, face to face.
Finally, what we say, while using these communication devices and how we say it, matters a lot.
We must remember that technology comes with its own set of challenges and problems.
You could get cut off in the middle of a conversation, you could come across as being too loud or too soft over the mic
How you present yourself over the camera could also reflect on how invested you are in the conversation.
So it is crucial that these aspects must also be brought to the notice, with the employees so they don’t find themselves in a spot where they or others may feel uncomfortable.
Communication for Remote leaders and Employees
Building Trust between leaders and team members is crucial to ensure that productivity prevails.
Common purpose, competence and motives, should be well established within teams.
Once this is done, we need to look at the aspects of communicating effectively over a remote network.
1.How to communicate with people? The key is richness.
2. And what is the richest method of communication? It is face-to-face communication.
When we're remote, we don't always have the option of having a rich and satisfying conversation. Here is when the remote leader has to step in and balance richness and scope.
It must be kept in mind that the team is scattered geographically, and if the goal of our communication is to get our message received, we have to think in terms of –
“How rich does this communication need to be?”
“How complex is it?”
“What’s the scope of this communication??”
Before actually starting the communication, its best to consider the content and desired outcome of the conversation and then select the ‘medium’; webcams, apps or any other suitable method.
Email, is a great example of a ‘medium’, misused from both of these perspectives.
You may have sent an email and tried to have a conversation and in all likelihood, it didn't work very well. That’s because, emails do not support rich communication.
And you may have also sent a blanket email hoping to get scope and not have it work quite right either, haven't you?
What you should do, is to identify the leadership results you need, then select the communication tool that you have in your toolkit that will help you best achieve that.
Let me be really specific. Before you write your next email, decide if it is the best communication tool to reach your communication goal.
Wellness & Activities for Remote Employees and Leaders
At any given point in time, activities, wellness programs, play a vital role in the development of mind, body, spirit.
Remote workers, spend a considerable amount of time, working on their own. Which also means that, relaxing conversations that generally take place during breaks or during the day in many organizations, happen sparingly, while working remotely.
Issues, that employees face, that may warrant a face to face discussion during the day, also do not take place easily. These are important because the facial reactions and physical proximity go a long way in the healing process.
Given the current Corona virus pandemic, negative emotions have risen, and the now remote employees are not trained to face such scenarios (Corona virus) on their own, along with the combination of work stress and uncertainty of the future, making it hard for productivity to prosper.
Wellness programs and activities for remote leaders and employees
There are several activities and wellness programs that leaders may incorporate into their teams' daily schedule. Here are a few.
- Simple exercises like breathing and yoga, as a team.
- The team may have members who like singing; it may help to lighten the mood.
- Zumba's sessions; a few fun steps.
- Online gaming.
- Comedy sessions: there may be people in the group with that comedy streak in them.
- It would come in handy later, to implement now, training sessions by a professional trainer: Emotional intelligence, NLP, behavioural training are geared towards dealing with your wellbeing.
Leading Teams Virtually, Qualities and Skills for Remote Leaders, provides an insight into the world of remote leaders.
For remote leaders, it’s essential that they understand their teams and work accordingly.
Using the appropriate technology, building trust, communicating efficiently will all lead to the development of a productive team and efficient team.
It's imperative to incorporate general wellness into the daily schedule.