As always, the best advice one can give, is the advice one gains from experience. So today I thought it would be useful to share with you a case I recently had while working with a client, who is the leader of a virtual team, and he had been struggling with managing the people on his squad for quite some time. He approached me as he was feeling that he was failing to maintain a certain level of motivation, productivity, interaction, and most importantly, purpose.
The pressure to perform was always there, but imagine how the dynamics changed when he had to sum up the different challenges we all had to face this year, things like different time zones, COVID-19, working from home and much more. His team was definitely struggling, dragging their feet and not achieving the results that were expected. My client, let's call him Pete, wanted to find a way to help his people.
During our coaching process, we identified some key factors that could be changed for the better. First, he realized it was necessary for him to find time to have ‘’meaningful’’ one-on ones with the members of his team. By saying ‘’meaningful’’ I mean that he became actually interested in his team members, not just work, performance and results. The best conversations came from the questions: How do you really feel? What are your biggest challenges right now? What can I help you with? How can I make this virtual working reality better for you? Do you have any suggestions? How is your relationship with the other members of the team? I’m here for you!
But that was just half of the conversation. Pete realized that the other half was just as important, maybe even more. This second half was the personal part. Pete gave himself time to know his employees, what they enjoy about working from home, their interests, what makes each of them feel fulfilled, if they had taken on any new hobbies, things like making sourdough, running or crocheting. This simple conversations affected the group positively, everyone was more committed, it brought them closer, made them better as a team.
The other principle that he focused on was the mix of trust and respect, that was basically based on effective delegating. Setting specific tasks for each employee and leaving them in charge, but making sure that they knew he was there for all the support and guidance they needed. He wouldn't interfere unless he was asked, and with each member of his team he set specific milestones for review.
His third strategy was about time, but it was probably not what you think. He gave himself the task to understand the working hours of his employees. As a virtual team with members all over the world, he realized that being flexible and understanding of time was essential. He found time slots in the calendar that worked for everyone, and encouraged his employees to understand each other's time.
As Zoom meetings were an everyday reality, he found that encouraging his employees to turn on their cameras helped with engagement. It made it all seem somewhat more normal, more like the old times, and the interaction was great for the team.
He also realized that he played a much larger role than what he thought. He noticed how his interactions, feelings, and expressions affected the energy of his team. And so he became more conscious of his ways, but never hiding if he was having a hard day, he just became better at communicating it in a way that it didn't affect the morale of the group.
Lastly, Pete realized he wanted to focus more on developing a growth mindset on his team. He noticed the importance of having this new outlook and orientation towards growth, and he organized a seminar and courses for his team. With this, Pete also realized that tools are important, not only mindset but tangible things. Tools such as apps, pieces of software and more that make interaction and everyday life easier, so he implemented new innovative apps and tools which were a turning point for the team.
This kind of realizations can seem simple, it feels like they are no big deal. But for Pete, they were a game changer, his team has been more productive, committed and in sync than ever, and I am glad I could be a part of his process. If you feel like Pete, if you need perspective, support, If you believe you are lacking something in the workplace, don't hesitate to contact me.
Your Business Growth Coach,