Women’s Leadership Coaching Tips About Supervising Virtual Teams

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly About Leading a Remote Team

Most (84%) of virtual employees (also called remote team members) work from home. According to Buffer’s Annual Report regarding the world of remote work, “2019 State of Remote Work,” employees are chasing the dream of work-life balance in record numbers. The promise of enjoying a flexible schedule by working remotely instead of slogging to work every day at a corporation with a rigid time schedule is a bright beacon beckoning them forward.

Executives and team leaders eagerly tout corporate advantages of virtual teams. Corporate boards routinely hear reports of enhanced productivity, cost savings and teamwork that includes people who normally cannot get together physically. Remote teams truly do create valuable global and cross-cultural input to team projects.

Leaders need to comprehend that there is a heavily weighted counterbalance to all of the above advantages. I’m speaking about the “bad and the ugly” that can neutralize or cancel the positive influences of “the good” aspects of remote teams.

What Remote Team Leaders May Not Know They’ll Have to Address

If leaders don’t know how to make special efforts to help remote workers avoid common pitfalls of off-site work, virtual employees will continue to struggle in predictable ways that can compromise their health, emotional well-being, job satisfaction and productivity. Of course, this will also negatively influence the leader’s performance review. Many leaders complain about exhaustion from constantly needing to recruit replacements for burned-out remote team members.

At least half of all remote workers complain about inadequate time off (“I could take more time off but I need the money”) and problems unplugging from work (“I work at home so work is always staring me in the face 24/7”). Because their work place lacks an on-site work support system, feelings of loneliness, isolation, disconnection, insomnia, sleep disturbance and low self-esteem (“Is my work good enough?”) are common. Problems with concentration, focus and fatigue frequently lead to anxiety and depression which could have been avoided.

What Else Fuels Remote Team Challenges for Women Leaders?

Some of this is related to inadequate feedback about job performance compared to a traditional corporate office job. Having coached remote workers over the years, I guarantee that part of the problem is associated with uneasiness about job stability because a virtual worker often feels like an outsider who doesn’t have access to insider information normally gleaned from daily corporate lunch breaks, gossip and friendship circles. It’s also associated with extra, unpaid responsibilities such as researching solutions that people in corporations learn from other workers, securing supplies and conducting IT and other troubleshooting.

Certain personality types are hardwired for self-management, easily prioritizing diverse tasks and demands and designing and implementing a plan for self-care, including exercise and sensible eating (especially when no one is watching you snack and the refrigerator is only steps away). Virtual workers who lack effective self-management skills often unconsciously overeat when they’re frustrated or bored.

Many remote workers are capable of recognizing their own achievements and rewarding themselves. They don’t require external recognition from other employees or a traditional corporate career plan. Other workers sincerely need recognition from an organizational hierarchy and peers, as well as goal-setting sessions. A danger flag is waving when a remote employee lacks a vision for their future career, a genuine support network, an exercise plan, a work schedule that allows for adequate time off and reasonable separation between their home and work life.

During years of women’s leadership coaching, my clients have consistently described problems related to remote jobs and supervising virtual employees. The list includes inadequate employer support, technology problems, cross-cultural clashes, language barriers and other communication issues related to an array of job dissatisfaction issues and struggles to stay motivated and engaged.

Women Leaders’ Concerns About Supervising Virtual Team Workers

The list below reflects the most frequent issues voiced by my female leadership clients who manage remote teams.

  • How to revise an in-person leadership style for use with remote team members.
  • This is especially a concern for remote managers who are used to closely supervising employees. Most new leaders of virtual teams worry about team members consistently performing at a high standard and asking for feedback that can prevent problems.
  • Ensuring that remote team members create a home office or other work space that will foster success and minimize interruptions.
  • Gaining adequate resources. How will the leader guarantee that the needs of an out-of-sight team are recognized, understood and met?
  • Discovering ideal technology tools, learning to use them and educating team members to do so.
  • Training personnel in multiple ways, from daily operations to troubleshooting.
  • Ensuring that performance data is relevant and a valuable way to enhance employee performance.
  • Building healthy human connections and community in a virtual world. Creating adequate virtual face time.
  • Gaining and sustaining motivation and engagement of all team members, even though they’re physically isolated.
  • Creating a team culture based on trust, common core values, shared vision, meaning and purpose.
  • Preventing cultural clashes based on language barriers, stereotypes, prejudice and unconscious biases.
  • Overcoming resistance to adapting new approaches with an open mind.
  • Encouraging and responding to employee requests for information and delivering helpful, consistent feedback.
  • Empowering team members to compensate for each other’s weaknesses.
  • Avoiding communication and clarity issues.
  • Managing changes in team membership, ensuring that every member feels welcome and supported and destructive cliques are discouraged.

How Women’s Leadership Coaching Will Help You

Here are a few examples of resources I share with my Women’s Leadership Coaching clients who work with virtual / remote teams.

  • Discover how to adapt your leadership style so you can successfully lead a virtual team.
  • Identify potential employees most and least suited for virtual team work, so you can hire the best people available.
  • Elevate your managing up skills. Secure clear agreements about support expected from upper management. Gain adequate resources on a consistent basis instead of becoming a forgotten orphan of the corporation.
  • Practice successful onboarding strategies for remote team members, including clear agreements, work responsibilities and expectations, ongoing accountability, longer-term evaluation criteria, etc.
  • Use proven educational tools to share with remote workers, including how to design an ergonomic office, set boundaries between personal and professional time, the need for a support network, taking exercise and other breaks during a work day, etc. These resources will enhance your leadership T.Q. (Trust Quotient) with your team members, while escalating the success of your team.
  • Explore proven tools to establish trust between diverse team members who do not physically or socially interact.
  • Employ best practices regarding training methods to use with your virtual team members so you can:
    • leverage employee strengths
    • create and sustain motivation,
    • consistently engage employees,
    • invite proactive communication and feedback,
    • enhance productivity and other elements of a vibrant, supportive team culture,
    • boost the emotional resilience of isolated team members and
    • evaluate individual team member performance and total team success.
  • Practice specific conflict resolutions tools for virtual teams that transform cross-cultural, cross-gender and cross-generational clashes and cliques into collaboration.
  • Use proven ways to manage work flow in a constantly changing virtual environment.
  • Know how to work with your team during a corporate reorganization.

Before we begin your Women’s Leadership Coaching sessions, you share your specific goals, concerns, needs and strengths in a complimentary consultation. Then I design a plan tailored to ensure your leadership career success.  We cover one step at a time and consistently evaluate your progress so you can celebrate your successes and we can make necessary adjustments.

The validated system I’m recommending to you is guaranteed to help you gain the trust and follow-through of a winning team. Just complete a short application form so I can contact you for a complimentary 20-minute Leadership Coaching Consultation. If we decide we’re a good fit as client and coach, we’ll discuss a coaching agreement.

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. as interviewed on “The Today Show,” CNN and NPR. Certified Master Leadership and Executive Coach Doris Helge is author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job,” Doris has helped hundreds of leaders like you meet every challenge you’re facing. Click here now to sign up to receive more Women’s Leadership Tips.


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About the Author

Doris Helge

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. at www.WomensLeadershipTips.com Doris Helge, Ph.D., MCC is a Certified Master Executive Leadership Coach and author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job.” Click here now to sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.

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