Right now marketing calls for relevance, empathy, performance, productivity, focus, resilience, and so many skills.
What is the most valuable skill you can have in these times of great uncertainty? I believe it’s LEADERSHIP. As a leader, there’s a part of you that’s strong, regardless of what’s happening around you.
Where there is a challenge there is also opportunity.
Tough times call for that part of you that’s hungry, tuned-in, courageous, bold, brilliant…
As we figure out how to navigate a state of no-new-normal, we are required to call on that can-do part of us that drives a vision with creativity and massive action. Our teams are experiencing a constant barrage of negative news. As leaders, we must stand guard at the door of our minds while recognizing the emotional upheaval our teams are likely experiencing. The onslaught of fear and lack of physical proximity increases the possibility of people feeling disconnected, disengaged, and potentially less productive.
Here are 5 tips to help you harness your power and inspire your team.
1. Find Your North Star
The path may change but the mission can still hold.
Your mission gives you purpose, meaning, and sometimes happiness 😊. This is what makes you live beyond a successful moment to a significant life. What do you want from life? When you prioritize, adjust, and adapt without compromising your commitment to your mission, you will achieve your goals.
Once you are clear on your mission, organize your tasks, and make every item on your to-do list express that vision. If an item does not align with your purpose, drop it. This will also keep your team clear and focused.
2. Promote Trust and Autonomy
Having a virtual team does not mean that you have to constantly breathe down everyone’s necks to make sure that they are working. Provide clear goals and trust your team members to accomplish those goals.
3. Make Everyone Accountable
While you give your team autonomy, you never lose sight of accountability. Provide work goals, and ensure they are met. Don’t let projects drag on and on. If workers know that goals and deadlines are enforced, they feel more involved in the team.
I’ve found that one-on-ones are one of the best ways to build rapport and create a culture of trust. Unlike status reports, standups, and other types of meetings, one-on-ones create dedicated space for a manager to connect, give, and get personalized feedback.
4. Get the Right Tools
A Gallup Poll found that those who were able to spend 60% to 80% of their time away from the office had the highest rates of engagement. Another extensive global study reported in Harvard Business Review reported that virtual teams can lead to increased efficiency and better business results.
Set Yourselves Up For Daily Conversations
Team chat allows for rapid real-time communication to get work done and gives virtual teams a very strong sense of being “present” as a team. This goes a great way to keep everyone feeling involved and motivated.
For high context conversations, chat can be too cumbersome. In these cases, hop on a quick audio/video conversation. There are scores of tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Fleep, uShare.to, Zoom etc. that virtual teams can select from. You can even use your phone as a webcam to video chat with your cross-functional partners, colleagues, teams, and direct reports, so you don’t miss any conversations that affect your projects.
Organize Your Team’s Effort With Collaboration Tools
Beyond communication, there is a range of collaboration tools that can help organize your team’s effort and keep them productive. Use group calendars to coordinate schedules and events, project management tools to coordinate team tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines, and document management to share important presentations, templates, and policies. You could explore Box for document management, Calendly for scheduling, etc. Tools like HyperOffice Atlas, Office 365 for Business, and GSuite offer all-in-one team toolkits. Organization in the daily execution of your business eliminates stress and frees your mind to focus on projects.
Leverage Video for Team Building
Video reinforces the human bonds between your team members. Skip the default to audio conferencing and make it a point to turn on video as a reminder that there are real people, with smiles, a myriad of emotions, and maybe tousled hair behind the voice.
5. Make time to reset
Set serious work-life boundaries to avoid burnout. Remember your health is highly crucial and should be first on your list of priorities. It determines your prosperity, comfort, and overall attitude. Eat a balanced diet, develop a solid exercise routine, and don’t skip sleep.
Your interactions with your team shouldn’t always be about work, work, work. Without the warmth of human presence, team interactions can sometimes become dry exchanges. Never miss an opportunity to encourage your team to just have normal social interactions. Take a few minutes at the beginning of a call to make small talk and just chit chat about life in general. Share a funny video now and then in a work chat room. Many teams have a dedicated chat room for “cooler chatter”, where teams talk about everything but work. And this fun banter can fuel creativity!
These are crazy times… but it’s time to turn the corner. It’s time to write our comeback story and transform our collective struggles into massive success.
It all starts with our hearts and minds!