Building a Successful Remote Workforce

103 0 0 0 8:49am - 29 Oct 2018

How do you lead others when you're not physically with them? Guiding a remote team to success depends heavily on effective leadership when members are geographically dispersed. In this article we focus on a few leadership strategies for transforming a good remote workforce to a great remote workforce.

Inspiring from a Distance

Inspiring a remote team involves more than simply reciting talking points and hoping for the best. Start by moving beyond the "what' and "how" and clarify the "why" for your team or organization - why does this team exist, what its higher purpose beyond making money? To inspire the members of your team, everyone needs to know that they play an integral part in the team's success and how their effort contributes to the achievement of team and organizational vision and mission.

In addition to focusing on the "why," effective remote leaders use two other techniques to inspire from a distance. They minimize the use of external rewards to motivate team members and focus on values to help ignite the "fire within" each person to engender sustained effort. They also use stories based on personal experience and connected to the company's context to convey important leadership lessons and messages.

Leveraging Diversity

A remote team is geographically diverse and members bring with them their own unique experiences and skill sets associated with their various backgrounds and cultures. As a remote team leader, it's your responsibility to recognize the strengths and values in these differences and leverage them to your organization's advantage. There are a few things you can do to better prepare your team to effectively work with and take advantage of both their geographic differences as well as their cultural ones.

When scheduling meetings, be aware of time-zone differences. Alternate meeting times so that one member isn't always unfairly burdened with waking up early or staying up too late. These displays of respect encourage the valuable "buy-in" necessary to the alignment and value focus you are leading everyone towards. Allow yourself to be open to change and new information, you can discover what worked to great effect in one location or market and adapt it successfully to another. Ask for input from your team often, but especially when their location or cultural background may bring about a new perspective. Opening a forum for brainstorming that delves into personal experiences always brings about a higher chance to resolve a dilemma in a new light.

Create a Sense of Community

Part of your job as remote leader is to align everyone's values by creating a "team" feeling and sense of community even when there is no actual team in sight. How is this done? First, make certain that everyone understands the organizational goals. When assigning roles to important projects or events, get everyone involved. During video or teleconferences, provide opportunities for each member to report on their progress, express questions or concerns and share their expectations for the future. Take time at the start of v-meetings to catch up on person events (e.g., weddings, vacations, births) and local events (e.g., the weather, sports teams, and holidays). Celebrate victories as a team and reflect on mishaps together.

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