Virtual leadership is such a pertinent topic right now, as leaders adapt to the new world that the coronavirus has caused.
Working from home is one of the success stories of the COVID-19 outbreak, with many companies reporting an easy transition. A recent survey found that up to 98 per cent of employees would like the option to work from home for the rest of their careers – what does this mean for the future of your business?
If employees have been remote working during the lockdown, what proportion of your team is going to continue to work from home as we move forwards? And what does this mean in terms of your leadership strategy?
Many leaders approached managing their newly-remote workforce with understandable caution – it was a new situation for many individuals. But now, as we settle into a ‘new normal’, if your team is going to stay remote in some way, you will need to refine your virtual leadership skills and managing time will be pivotal.
Today I want to talk about time-management for virtual leaders, and how this will be critical to your success in managing your remote team. Let me start with the first thing you must do for your virtual team – define your systems.
Defining Your Systems
All leaders must fully understand their systems, and in a time where things are changing and evolving rapidly, this is more essential than ever. Have your systems and processes altered since the COVID-19 outbreak?
Remote leadership success is built upon cohesive systems, and these must be re-evaluated regularly. Work with your virtual team to find out what is currently working and what needs to be looked at – all employees will have their input which can be helpful to see things from every perspective. Only once you have defined your virtual systems can effective time-management be implemented. The next step is using your cohesive methods to plan and execute your tasks in the appropriate time-frame.
Prioritising Your Own (and Your Teams’) Tasks
You need to ensure your virtual team are aware of the fact that working remotely can elongate certain tasks as opposed to working in a physical setting. This can happen due to a difficulty collaborating; time challenges when trying to get hold of colleagues or clients – the physical challenge of distance.
Because of this, virtual leaders must be acutely aware of prioritising tasks in an effective but realistic time-frame – I will talk about creating realistic schedules a little later.
Tips for virtually prioritising tasks include-
- Get employees to make a list of must-do’s for the week, and break them down into days – get your employees to communicate these goals with you in daily or weekly virtual meetings (I will talk more about virtual meeting in the next section).
- Encourage flexibility and adaptability – sometimes your team will have to switch tasks to prioritise an urgent issue; are your team able to do this to a high standard?
Use technology – make sure you take full advantage of online task management software, calendars, and reminders to help keep the working week flowing as smoothly as possible and that things get done when they need to—for example, setting a reminder for your virtual meetings so that your team aren’t waiting for forgetful individuals.
Using Virtual Meetings to Save Time
As a virtual leader, your online meetings will be critical to your team’s success. Each company will have a different approach; it’s about finding what works for you.
Some teams like to meet first thing in the morning, but for other organisations, this is a peak time for completing tasks, and a meeting at this point would interrupt workflow.
Some leaders meet with their team multiple times per day, some only a handful of times a week. In global organisations, you must ensure that all team members are able to have access to your leadership skills and that none are excluded due to their time zone. For example, instead of a meeting first thing in the morning for the UK, a meeting at 2 pm would allow US employees to join at 9 am.
Ask your team for their input on how often they feel they need to meet. If some individuals want to meet more often, you could plan a daily meeting with these employees and have a weekly meeting for the rest – it’s about finding a style which suits your employees. Time management is a personal thing to each individual, and feeling as though an imposed meeting is encroaching on their working time can leave employees feeling frustrated.
Be Realistic With Your Time Management
Finally – leaders should remember that it is not possible to plan your week with 100% accuracy. How much of your day do you spend dealing with reactive tasks?
Reactive tasks are things that arise without prior warning, which need your attention there and then. It is estimated that around 40%-60% of leaders’ time is spent dealing with reactive tasks, so make sure you plan for this when thinking about your schedule and your week.
As a virtual leader, reactive tasks have the potential to eat into more of your time, as the time it takes to collaborate and communicate is longer. Always be mindful of unexpected issues and do not fill your schedule to the point where you become unavailable to your team.
If you manage a virtual team and want to increase your learning or to develop your team, we can help. Here at Zestfor, we offer programmes to help you to optimise your leadership skills and personal development and get the best out of your virtual team.
If you would like to find out more, then send a quick email here.
Until next time,
Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.
Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat, call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, please email our team here.