Remote or teleworking has become the norm in the last few years, leading to a digital transformation of leadership. This has led to the growth of the e-leadership concept. It refers to managing remote teams and leadership tasks and activities by communicating with people through online channels. The growth of e-leadership has been so massive that it has become a crucial skill in the 21st century. However, it comes with various challenges. For example, leaders are often worried about the effectiveness and productivity of employees in a remote setting. This blog discusses the challenges leaders face in managing remote teams and suggests practices to do it effectively.
What Major Challenges are Faced When Managing Remote Teams?
Even though remote working has its perks, it can be difficult for managers and leaders to ensure efficiency and productivity among team members in a virtual setup. Here are some of the most significant challenges leaders face while managing remote teams:
1. Asynchronous Communication
This type of communication refers to giving team members the liberty to reply at their convenience as opposed to real-time or constant communication. Of course, while many leaders believe that asynchronous communication benefits productivity, it also poses challenges. These include poor work-life balance, lack of a sense of community, micromanagement, and unclear communication.
2. Lack of Motivation in Employees
Many remote employees feel anxious and burnt out and lack the motivation to work. This ultimately impacts their performance at work. A remote setup can also lead to a lack of innovation as they don’t get the opportunity to brainstorm or examine their surroundings to find creative solutions.
3. Reduced Employee Engagement
In addition to motivation, leaders also face challenges in boosting employee engagement. Employees get more focused on their productivity and hesitate to participate in activities requiring collaboration. Furthermore, ensuring effective communication between team members and promoting inclusivity can be difficult while managing remote teams.
4. Lack of Sense of Community and Belonging
A bigger challenge is fostering a sense of community and belonging among team members. This often happens because processional connections are lost when people cannot meet and connect physically.
How Can Leaders Build Trust and Collaboration Within Virtual Teams?
The concept of e-leadership has been divided into six core competencies—communication, social, team, change, trust, and tech. All these elements together are necessary for effectively managing remote teams and building trust and collaboration. Let’s understand these competencies in detail and how leaders can work on them:
Ensuring clear virtual communication with team members is critical for a leader. They should establish well-organized communication between team members through proper online channels. Moreover, there should be a freeway for both leaders and team members to communicate effectively. However, communication should be concise, as an overflow may hamper work.
Leaders can ensure effective e-communication through regular team meetings, encouraging open conversations, setting clear goals, and listing guidelines for healthy communication.
This element involves providing a conducive environment and supporting team members to promote interaction. This helps build trust and foster collaboration between team members.
3. Team Building
This is another critical element for managing remote teams efficiently. E-team building involves motivating the team, giving them accountability, and acknowledging and rewarding the efforts of team members. The role of a leader is to build, lead, and motivate their team in a remote work setting.
4. Change Management
Another component of leadership in a remote setting involves smooth change management. It entails using technology and taking other initiatives for a smooth digital transformation.
Trust building in virtual teams is mandatory for leaders to foster a culture of trust, fairness, and ethics among team members.
6. Use of Technology
Lastly, e-tech skills are also necessary to improve trust and collaboration in a virtual team. Using the latest Information and Communication Technology (ICT) methods and tools, such as cloud computing, can significantly help improve communication and collaboration between team members. It also promotes transparency and helps build trust.
What are the Best Practices for Managing Virtual Teams Effectively?
1. Collaborating With Team Members to Solve Problems
As discussed above, remote working can reduce employee engagement and create a feeling of isolation. Hence, leaders should boost collaboration and motivate teams to solve problems together. Moreover, this provides a sense of recognition and makes employees feel valued.
2. Focus on Socializing and Team Bonding Exercises
Another best practice for effectively managing remote teams is encouraging socializing and team bonding exercises. These activities include ice-breaking sessions for new joiners, online lunch dates, messy-desk photo contests, playing online games, and conducting team competitions to help employees upskill.
3. Enable Easy Communication Flow
Communication is the key to managing remote teams. Without clear and direct communication, team members lose productivity and fail to achieve organizational goals. Hence, leaders must promote a culture of active communication.
4. Offer Feedback Frequently
Another best practice for managing remote teams includes giving and receiving frequent feedback. This helps leaders, as well as employees, understand their shortcomings and find areas of improvement. It also motivates employees to perform better.
5. Monitoring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Leaders must also set clear KPIs and monitor them to ensure employees complete their responsibilities. It offers a sense of purpose to employees and helps achieve team targets.
How Can Leaders Ensure Accountability in Remote Teams?
Accountability in the workplace refers to taking responsibility for completing a task successfully. It means being responsible for actions, task performance, and results achieved. Ensuring accountability while managing remote teams can become difficult for leaders as they cannot monitor performance, leading to trust issues. Here are a few steps to deal with this problem and increase accountability:
1. Setting Clear Expectations
This promotes transparency and helps employees understand the ultimate goal.
2. Regular Follow-ups
Leaders can track their team members’ progress through daily sync-ups to get regularly updated on their work.
3. Avoid Micromanagement
While following up is important, leaders should avoid micromanaging their members. It is essential to provide some job autonomy.
What Tools and Technologies Can Support Effective Remote Leadership?
E-leadership or remote leadership requires the use of excellent IT tools and technologies for efficiently managing remote teams. Here are some of the tools that leaders can use to communicate with their team members:
- MS Teams
On a broader level, these are the most popular technologies used for managing remote teams:
- Cloud Computing
- Business Apps like Outlook, Teams, Basecamp
- Mobile Tools
- Unified Communication
- Process Automation
- Project Management Tools
- Video Conferencing
- Productive Assistants
Boost Your Leadership Career With Emeritus
Leadership is one of the most difficult yet crucial skills to acquire. Yet, it is essential for growing a business and nurturing a workforce. Business leaders are responsible for fostering a culture of trust, boosting productivity, ensuring accountability, and motivating team members to achieve the desired results. Furthermore, the role of a business leader becomes more challenging while managing remote teams. You can enhance your e-leadership skills by enrolling in Emeritus’ online leadership courses in collaboration with top global institutions. These teach the latest leadership trends and can help you acquire the necessary leadership skills and qualities to boost your career.
By Sneha Chugh
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