3 Ways to become a successful leader to a virtual team

Things have undoubtedly changed for the office environment in 2020. This in turn means that the way we lead must adapt to accommodate these changes.  

Remote working is now a standard as social distancing is still in force throughout the UK. Leaders are now learning new skills and techniques to manage teams and encourage collaboration and productivity through new channels.  

Here at SearchDATA Group we have found the remote working experience a mostly positive one, so we would like to share with you some tips that, we hope, will help you become a successful virtual leader.  

  1. Get the best technology you can  

Communication is now virtual whether we like it or not. Ensure that your team has the correct tech to work to their best potential; laptops, monitors and even internet boosters if necessary – with millions working from home and schooling from home the household broadband is being stretched to the limit! Make the most of the team collaboration technology available to ensure smooth and issue free communication. Various collaboration platforms are available but Microsoft Teams and Zoom are proving very popular for businesses of all industries and sizes.   

Smaller companies are able to communicate easily and freely with little effort through these platforms, whilst larger companies are able to utilise aspects such as co-hosts, polls and breakout rooms.  

It is also wise to ensure that the security of both the business and employee is upheld throughout.  

  1. Adapt your communication style  

Virtual meetings are not the same as face to face meetings and you should adapt your communication style to be sympathetic to that. Make sure that you regularly ask questions to your team throughout to encourage engagement. Try to keep meetings short and to the point, staring at a screen for over an hour can be difficult and tiring and people tend to lose interested or disengage after this point. If the meeting is about various aspects of the business, then designate different parts to relevant team members to lead each section to make everyone feel they are contributing and taking part. As mentioned platforms such as Microsoft Teams offer surveys and breakout groups which can help break the meeting up into more interesting and manageable chunks.  

  1. Listen to your team  

We are in a period of huge change for both work and homelife. Whilst some will be thriving others will be struggling and finding the situation stressful. Take time to talk to your team members individually and find out how they are coping with the changes. This may mean checking in with your team more often than you normally would, but it will be beneficial to understand what their situation is on a regular basis as things evolve and change. As well as asking them how they are coping try asking them what aspects of your virtual leadership are working or not working for them e.g. meeting times, is the collaboration tool working, are you being sympathetic to their new working environment? Would some team members benefit from a buddy scheme? This could also be a great time to provide extra training for your team if there are areas they are feeling unsure about.  Keeping communication open and honest on both sides will help you to better understand and lead your team and will let them know you care.  

Things have undoubtedly changed, but this doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Take this time to develop your communication skills, create new and innovative ways to inspire your team to reach targets and engage with the business. It can also be a great time to get to know your team better on a personal level, understand their goals and worries and reshape working relationships. 

Keeli MacMillan  

SearchDATA Group