Earlier this week, we hosted a free webinar, Leading from a Distance: Practical Tips for Successful Virtual Leadership, with Rick Lepsinger, President of OnPoint Consulting. Rick is a virtual team expert with more than 30 years experience and a proven track record as a human resource consultant and executive.
Over 230 people listened to the webinar live. You may view the archived webinar here.
Here’s what some of the participants had to say about the webinar:
“This has been very helpful. Thank you!”
“This was excellent – thank you, Rick!!!!”
“Great tips. Good for non-virtual teams, too!”
So, what has everyone all excited about this webinar? The fact that it is relatable and very relevant in today’s work environment? More than likely!
There were three main objectives of this webinar:
- Understand what you can do to improve the quality of your virtual meetings (v-meetings).
- Develop strategies and actions to build and sustain trust in a virtual environment.
- Learn skills and techniques to effectively coach and manage accountability from a distance.
To properly understand why leading a person, or a team virtually, has so many challenges. First you need to understand why.
Virtual work is different because:
- Infrequent or no face-to-face contact.
- Difference in time zones.
- Significant reliance on technology.
Let’s look at the numbers. There has been an 800% increase in virtual workers during the past 5 years. Use of virtual meetings has increased at 80% of companies. Only 62% of people are somewhat satisfied with the v-meetings they attend. 73% report “getting everyone engaged” and “multi-tasking” are always, or often, challenges.
Many of you reading this now, or that participated in the live webinar, are more than likely virtual workers!
Planning is key in virtual leadership. Here are some tips:
- Do not have meetings unless there is a reason.
- If you just want to pass along information, find another way to do it.
- Be prepared.
- Rotate meeting times to accommodate time zone differences.
- Plan more frequent, but shorter, 30-60 minute meetings.
Another issue is that some virtual teams choose certain technologies for communication, that hurt rather than help them reach their objectives. Be aware of when to use what technology, and match the technology to the task.
Building relationships is also key in a virtual environment.Consider these tips for your next meeting:
- Build time into the agenda for “water cooler” conversation.
- As people sign on, greet people and make small talk.
- Take a personal interest in team members just as if you saw them in the office.
- Use empathizing to check-in and clarify feelings and emotional reactions.
- Establish processes to build trust and relationships (e.g., group activity, breakout groups).
Lastly, keep in mind that the behaviors necessary to be successful when leading from a distance are not totally unique and new. However, it does require being proactive, particularly since many of these behaviors become more challenging when working or leading virtually.
The real secret is that there is no secret. It’s not about a new management skill that makes working virtually possible. The best virtual leaders understand this and have bridged the “virtual gap” by adjusting their behavior and work habits to accommodate the unique characteristics of their virtual environment.
For more information, view the archived webinar here.