You recognize that the ability to be more competitive and have an all-around more-fulfilled employee base lies in going remote. But where can you start when it comes to the current team you are leading?
This week we met with Edoc’s Tina Wildey, who does everything from business development to hiring and managing of Edoc’s remote office managers. Tina shared two major insights about the dynamics of people’s behavior that have helped her become one of the most highly regarded leaders at Edoc over the past 12 years.
Committing to these two concepts in a virtual environment will allow you to become a more effective leader so that you can bring out the best in your team.
1. Model the proactive behavior that’s required to succeed.
When a team first goes virtual, a shift they will immediately notice is the need to be more proactive when it comes to communication.
Similarly, one of the most important steps in building yourself as a leader when you go virtual is proactively communicating expectations across the board with your team.
This contribution can be accomplished in one of two ways: in how you execute your own work output, and also in how you go about using your talent to coordinate the workflow and development of those around you.
Take for example our individual job purpose and job description that we create for ourselves at Edoc.
Our purpose and job descriptions aren’t’ just assigned to us—instead, we’re encouraged to craft, or at least collaborate on, our role purpose and description.
The result? As you can probably guess, the newcomer on the team, quite simply, can feel the immediate trust they’re being given. And whether or not it’s realized at the time, it’s likely they’ll feel a greater emotional connection to the company–a feeling of ownership in what they’re doing, and a sense of commitment to their role. Second, and just as important, they can see where they fit into the big picture of the company!
On the other end of the spectrum would be a manager who has to watch everything a newcomer on the team does.
It’s a waste of both time and energy to make sure people are doing “what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Is having this kind of immediate trust in someone a bit risky? You could argue it is risky, but if you made the right hiring choice, it’s a risk with a great deal of upside potential.
By setting expectations early on in a relationship, a leader also helps support your team’s culture.
Again, this kind of action signals trust–yes, we trust you to be able to navigate and create your own job description. But second, it’s indicative of how your company wants to approach its other key relationships.
We want to have long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with our partners. The only way to do so is to immediately support and trust that partner.
2. Invest in those around you.
Most leaders in a company have at least one thing in common: that they are busy! When time is scarce for a leader, the person who should be focusing on moving a company closer towards its vision, it increases the need for delegation.
One of the biggest mistakes a high-level manager can make is holding on to all those tasks that she can delegate to others, in particular, when those tasks require “letting go” or up-front training.
It can be difficult to set aside the time required in the short-term to train someone else so that they are fluid with a certain set of skills. In a remote work environment, training someone may even seem more difficult at times (though, we’d argue it is not).
While it may be tempting to just continue doing all the time-intensive tasks you feel you can do best, in the long-run, It’s vital to let go and to allow others to develop their capabilities.
As a leader, shortsightedness in this way is actually hindering the development of the people around you.
So how can you really take that first step in trusting the people around you—whether it’s a new hire or someone you are training to take on a new role outside their comfort zone?
Tina’s mindset reflects Edoc’s approach on the whole: “Investing in people is investing in their potential. Generally I trust people until you give me a reason not to trust you.”
Then how can you start building this mentality in your own company today?
Edoc has a culture in place that serves as a bit of a safety net. Not only does everyone know their role, but everyone in the company is, by nature, approachable. If there are any questions or uncertainty, there is no fear in reaching out to get help from one another.
“We just trust that people are doing what they are supposed to be doing. If they aren’t, we can call them and see what might be happening. If they have questions about something, they will ask someone,” explains Tina. “It’s just how we get things done.”
Once again, if it sounds risky, you’re right, it is.
But your workers will feel the sense of trust you have in them. Both sides—that is, the so-called managers, and the workers— will have a greater appreciation for each other in the end.
“I have really appreciated the flexibility that we have at Edoc,” Tina says. “Our culture is one where it is understood that we have a full life: we are parents, we have families, we have other roles as well, and I wholeheartedly appreciate what this has allowed me to do.”
Are we missing another key insight when it comes to leading in a remote environment? Let us know here or on Twitter.
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